Emanuel joins chorus of Democrats demanding special prosecutor

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the growing chorus of Democrats in asking for an independent investigation into Russian involvement in the U.S. connection and ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday added his voice to the chorus of national Democrats demanding that a special prosecutor investigate whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or anyone close to the president conspired with Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Emanuel, who served as former President Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff, never used the adjective “Nixonian,” which so many of his fellow Democrats have used to describe Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey.

But the mayor was quick to climb aboard the bandwagon to demand a special prosecutor.

“Given that the FBI is at a central role in investigating whether the Russian government influenced our elections and what aspects of it, this is just not something you can just pass over. As it relates to the Russian aspect of the investigation going on, I do believe you’re gonna need an individual — I would say a special prosecutor — to look into that aspect because of all the issues in the history of Director Comey and his oversight of that investigation and some of the things that relate to the firing,” the mayor said.

“This is a very serious aspect given the role the FBI has played and is going to play in getting to the bottom of whether the Russian government — not only did it try to influence the election. Were there Americans willingly participating in that effort?”

Emanuel said the Comey firing “caught everybody out of the blue and totally out of left field.”

That would be a big deal at any time, given the critical role the FBI plays in law enforcement. But it’s particularly pivotal now in the middle of the Russian collusion investigation.

“There have always been attempts by other governments to . . . somehow influence American elections. What happened here is different and unique,” the mayor said.

“The FBI is playing a central role . . . and uncovering whether people are trying to undermine our Democratic institutions — not just foreigners but anybody else. [That] means that we have to have an integrity where people trust and believe in the investigation and allow the chips to fall where they may,” he said.

Emanuel worked as a brash young political operative under former President Bill Clinton. The mayor was one of vanquished Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s earliest supporters.

Since the election, the mayor and Trump have sparred over everything from Trump’s frequent potshots about Chicago crime and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to review and retreat from police reform agreements nationwide to Trump’s proposed travel ban and his threat to cut off funding to sanctuary cities where illegal immigrants can access city services and live without fear of deportation.

Environmental policy also has become a new front in the ongoing political battle.

Last week, Emanuel created a new city website: “Climate Change is Real.” It resurrects information that’s the product of decades of research on the impact of climate change that, the mayor claims was “unceremoniously removed” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own Climate Change Website on April 29.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in a press release.

“We are going to ensure Chicago’s residents remain well-informed about the effects of climate change. And I encourage cities, academic institutions and others to voice concerns [and] follow suit to ensure the important information does not disappear.”

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