by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rahm Emanuel, President Joe Biden’s pick to serve as ambassador to Japan, is the latest nominee to divide Democrats while awaiting confirmation in the slow-moving Senate.
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the selection of Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago, to represent the United States in Japan and urged the Senate not to confirm him.
The New York liberal called Emanuel’s nomination “deeply shameful” because he presided over the city when police shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. A Chicago police officer was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in that case.
City leaders faced widespread criticism after the 2014 shooting for initially withholding the footage of McDonald’s murder, then charging the officer who shot him only after the footage became public months later.
“That the Biden administration seeks to reward Emanuel with an ambassadorship is an embarrassment and betrayal of the values we seek to uphold both within our nation and around the world,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement on Wednesday. “I urge the Senate to vote NO on his confirmation.”
Emanuel — a close Obama ally who was the White House chief of staff when Biden was vice president — is not the only former, current, or prospective nominee to divide Democrats as Biden struggles to get many of his picks over the finish line in the Senate.
At the 200-day mark of his presidency, Biden had fewer than half of the confirmations former President Barack Obama had secured and slightly fewer former President Donald Trump, who faced widespread criticism for how slowly he filled the upper echelons of his administration.
Ocasio-Cortez joined with fellow progressive Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley on Monday to call on Biden not to renominate Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for another term, as he is reportedly considering.