President-elect Joe Biden is just getting started filling essential cabinet roles for his incoming administration. Yet already, he’s facing pressure from the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party over plans to find a role for former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel at the White House.
The former congressman, who also was Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff, was being eyed to become the next U.S. Transportation Department secretary. After a small backlash, Biden changed his mind, instead considering Emanuel to serve as U.S. trade representative.
Yet, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Squad was having none of that.
“Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of a Black teenager, Laquan McDonald, while he was mayor of Chicago,” incoming congressman Mondaire Jones tweeted on Monday. “That he’s being considered for a cabinet position is completely outrageous. And honestly, very hurtful.”
Jones’ fellow Squad member, Jamaal Bowman, quickly agreed on social media, adding that “this is why Black people continued to feel devalued in our party and country. We have to do much, much better.”
McDonald was just 17 when he was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014, according to reports. Although initial reports led many to conclude the shooting was justified, video of the shooting prompted the Chicago city council to offer McDonald’s family a $5 million settlement even before they could file a wrongful death suit.
Of course, confirming cabinet posts is the job of the U.S. Senate, so if Squad members like Jones or Bowman want to block certain appointments, they’ll have to do it through the court of public opinion.
If Emanuel does become the new trade representative, he would replace Trump appointee Robert Lighthizer.