Follow @lynnsweetWASHINGTON — The day after President Donald Trump said via Twitter he will “send in the Feds” if Chicago does not “fix the horrible carnage,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday the next step is for a dialogue to start with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“I think next is we will get, hopefully get a dialogue started with Mayor Emanuel, try to figure out what a path forward can be so that we get, we come up with a plan that can keep the people of Chicago safe and help stop, help ease, the problem there,” Spicer said in reply to the Sun-Times asking at the daily briefing about what happens next.
From the perspective of Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, he kick-started that dialogue about ways the Trump administration can help curb crime in Chicago:
- On Dec. 7, when he talked about public safety with then President-elect Trump in Trump Tower.
- On Dec. 16, in a side conversation with the incoming Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus at a White House lunch hosted by Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough for Priebus, attended by former chiefs.
- On Jan. 17, when he huddled with then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence when they both were here for the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
From Spicer’s perch, what Emanuel considers outreach isn’t the dialogue the Trump White House has in mind.
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“I think when President Obama was speaking his farewell address the other day, two people were killed, the same day that the president was at his — was in his home city. And I think the president-elect at the time extended his support to Mayor Emanuel to say that the resources of the federal government are here for you. To the best of my knowledge, that return call for help has not occurred,” Spicer said.
Obama delivered his farewell address on Jan. 10 at McCormick Place. Emanuel’s folks told me they were not aware of any call from Trump or any of his deputies. Sun-Times records do not reflect any murders on Jan. 10.
My biggest question for Spicer was this: What is the nature of federal help Trump has in mind when he said he will “send in the Feds.”
“. . . And what he wants to do is provide the resources of federal government — and it can span a bunch of things. There’s no one thing. It can be — there can be aid, there can be — if it was requested up through the governor, through the proper channels, that the federal government can provide on a law enforcement basis.
“But there’s other aid that can be extended as well, either through the U.S. Attorney’s Office or other means that will ensure that the people of Chicago have the resources to feel safe.”
May I suggest another dialogue take place between Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., when it comes to:
- Sending resources to Chicago to prevent crime, step up prosecutions, stop the flow of guns from Indiana and other places with lenient gun laws and provide summer jobs to youths to keep them out of trouble.
- Moving ahead with a pending consent decree deal between the Justice Department and Chicago in the wake of DOJ findings earlier this month of police misconduct and racial bias.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that Sessions, in answering questions about “Trump’s call for federal assistance in Chicago,” refused in his written answers to the panel “to commit to increase or even maintain federal public safety grant funding to help address the gun violence crisis in Chicago and refusing to commit to honor and implement the agreement in principle between the city of Chicago and the Justice Department.”
After the briefing I asked Spicer who Emanuel was supposed to call for the “dialogue.”
Said Spicer: “Call the chief of staff. (Emanuel) knows how to do that. That will be a good start.”