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  • snitzoid

Rahm didn't cover up anything, is a lucky guy & is going to Japan!

I'm sure Rahm is looking at Mayor Lightfoot and is literally green with envy. What a fun job! In the meantime, he's cleaning up being an on air commentator, big time investor/investment banker and getting his Passport in order.

Former Chicago inspector general to U.S. Senate: No evidence Rahm Emanuel covered up Laquan McDonald police shooting



NOV 18, 2021 AT 4:12 PM

As Rahm Emanuel awaits a final confirmation vote on his nomination as ambassador to Japan, Chicago’s former inspector general has written a letter to U.S. senators emphasizing there is no evidence the former mayor or his administration covered up the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Emanuel’s handling of McDonald’s death has come under renewed scrutiny as his nomination has made its way through the Senate and faced opposition from a handful of fellow progressive Democrats in Congress.

The day after Emanuel faced pointed questions about McDonald’s death in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Joseph Ferguson wrote a letter to the committee saying “the facts simply do not exist” to support the notion the former mayor engaged in a cover-up.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens to Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson at Dirksen Federal Courthouse after a hearing in Chicago in 2014.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens to Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson at Dirksen Federal Courthouse after a hearing in Chicago in 2014. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

As inspector general, Ferguson was tasked with investigating the death of McDonald at the hands of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was later convicted of second-degree murder. Ferguson also was appointed by Emanuel to serve on a police accountability task force in the wake of the shooting, along with current Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who chaired the city’s Police Board at the time.

“My office’s comprehensive investigation did not reveal any evidence that would support the lingering surmises and accusations of a ‘cover-up’ orchestrated out of City Hall. None,” Ferguson wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the Foreign Relations Committee obtained by the Tribune Thursday.

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Ferguson and Emanuel both declined to comment on the letter, which Ferguson wrote six days after he finished his 12-year tenure as inspector general.

The former mayor’s confirmation is expected to pass the full Senate with strong bipartisan support, though it is unclear when the vote will take place. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination earlier this month, with two progressive Democrats, Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, voting “no.”

Merkley cited Emanuel’s handling of the McDonald shooting. Markey did not offer a reason for his vote.

In his confirmation hearing last month, Emanuel defended and expressed regret over his handling of the police shooting of McDonald. Emanuel said he should have better recognized the lack of trust citizens held for the Chicago Police Department and pushed for stronger reforms more quickly.

The former mayor, however, did not specify what he would have done differently in his response to the shooting, and sidestepped questions about when he learned specifics about the incident.

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Those questions came from Merkley, who pressed Emanuel for details on when he was briefed about the shooting, but ultimately was cut off by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez after going over his allotted time.

Though he has been out of office for more than two years, Emanuel has faced sustained criticism for his administration’s resistance to releasing police dashcam video of the shooting and its decision to approve a prompt $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family. Emanuel repeatedly has denied that he or his administration engaged in a cover-up, and he reiterated that stance during his confirmation hearing.

In November 2015, a Cook County judge ordered the mayor to release the graphic police dashcam footage, which showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald in the middle of a Southwest Side street as the Black teen walked away while holding a small folding knife. On the same day Emanuel made the video public, then-State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Van Dyke with murder, and it soon was revealed that several officers’ accounts of the shooting in police reports varied dramatically from the video.

Those reports and the delay in the murder charge, combined with the fact that Emanuel’s administration and aldermen paid the settlement to the McDonald family before a lawsuit was even filed, led to accusations of a City Hall cover-up, calls for Emanuel’s resignation and weeks of street protests during which the chant of “16 shots and a cover-up” was born.

Some progressive Democrats have cited that timeline of events in opposing the former mayor’s nomination, including progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has called President Joe Biden’s nomination of Emanuel “deeply shameful.”

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“Black Lives Matter. Here in the halls of Congress, it is important that we not just speak and believe these words, but put them into action in the decisions we make,” Merkley said last month in explaining his opposition to Emanuel.

Many big-name establishment Democrats, however, have backed Emanuel, including former President Bill Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress. Nine Black aldermen, the former president of the Chicago Urban League and McDonald’s great uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, wrote letters to the Senate backing Emanuel’s confirmation.

“There is more to this individual than the caricature that is presented in the public,” Hunter wrote about Emanuel. “I felt what is in his heart, and I know him to be a decent and honorable man who is willing to listen, eager to learn and show a deep level of compassion.”

Records released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the Tribune on Thursday show Emanuel also received letters of support from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White; top officials with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Tom Schieffer, a former ambassador to Australia and Japan; and Joseph Nye Jr., a professor emeritus at Harvard University and former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

In his letter, Ferguson backed Emanuel’s assertion that in withholding footage of the McDonald shooting, the mayor followed a policy in place at the time that prevented video of a shooting from being released if the matter was under investigation.

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He also noted Emanuel subsequently changed that policy, which now requires the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to release footage of a police shooting within 60 days of the incident with the allowance for one 30-day extension at the request of law enforcement officials.

“Decisions made about the non- or delayed-disclosure of the body-worn camera videos at that time were in fact the long-standing policy and practice of the city of Chicago and its Law Department,” Ferguson wrote. “There is a complete absence of factual basis to support the claim that Mayor Emanuel was involved directly or indirectly in a ‘cover-up’ of the McDonald shooting videos.”

Ferguson’s tenure covered the entirety of Emanuel’s time in office, and his ethics investigations at times rattled the mayor’s administration. In 2013, Emanuel reversed course on forcing Ferguson to reapply for his job. The mayor’s hesitancy to reappoint the City Hall watchdog drew criticism since it came as the inspector general conducted an investigation of indicted former city Comptroller Amer Ahmad.

In his letter, Ferguson credited Emanuel with creating the police accountability task force in the wake of McDonald’s death, a body whose work coincided with a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the city’s Police Department.

Ferguson said Emanuel appointed him to the task force despite the two men having been at “vociferous and heated odds over findings and recommendations of my office’s independently conducted investigations and audits” at various points over the years. The former watchdog noted another Emanuel appointment to the panel was Lightfoot, whom Ferguson referred to as one of the former mayor’s “more trenchant critics.”

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Former Mayor Richard M. Daley initially appointed Ferguson to the inspector general post, and Emanuel reappointed him twice.

Although Lightfoot originally helped Ferguson get the job, the two have had a falling out since she became mayor. Lightfoot has criticized Ferguson behind the scenes for being too slow to complete investigations. Publicly, she has said his replacement must understand the importance of “staying in their lane.”

In a series of interviews since his departure, Ferguson has criticized City Hall for not doing enough on police reforms and said Lightfoot’s administration “lacks competencies.” He also said the city hampered his investigation into the botched police raid on Anjanette Young’s home by hiring a law firm Jones Day to run a parallel investigation.

Lightfoot has downplayed his criticism. At one news conference, she said “Who?” when asked about Ferguson’s comments. At another, she called him “a speck” on her rearview mirror.

In his letter to the Senate, Ferguson credited Emanuel for his December 2015 speech to the City Council in which he acknowledged a code of silence existed in the Chicago Police Department. While Ferguson wrote that some said Emanuel did so only out of “political crisis,” he said few acknowledged it opened up the city to legal action and possible financial consequences.

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“He declared, decried and demanded an end to something few if any elected leaders in the United States had previously acknowledged,” Ferguson wrote.

The former IG also credited Emanuel for having “encouraged and supported a thoroughgoing independent investigation” by his office into the McDonald matter. Ferguson’s investigation recommended the firing of 11 officers and the sanctioning of six more.

Ferguson told senators he decided to address the committee because inspectors general typically do not “report out what they do not find.” As a result, he said a “negative space” had been left for a suspicious narrative to be formed that Emanuel and his administration engaged in a cover-up.

Ferguson did not address whether the Senate should confirm Emanuel as ambassador.

“I offer this statement strictly to assure a complete and accurate factual record for the committee on a very important question that remains open because it resides as a matter of record to this point in negative, undeclared, space,” Ferguson concluded. “The conjecture drawn from that negative space is not supported by any evidence and, as such, may best be understood as a symptom of the very mistrust the public has of police, policing and government that are at the core of so many of our present societal ills and challenges.”

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