WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump once again highlighted Chicago’s problems with crime, this time making it personal, telling Mayor Rahm Emanuel — not using his name — “to get tough.”
At rousing rally Tuesday night in Youngstown, Ohio — turf that helped Trump win the state last November – where the president touched on a variety of topics including “the late, great, Abraham Lincoln” — he turned to another son of Illinois.
“This month in Chicago, there have been more than two homicide victims per day. What the hell is going on in Chicago?” Trump said, with the “hell” line one he has used before.
“Better tell that mayor to get tough because it’s not working what they’re doing,” Trump said.
Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins told me on Wednesday, “Anytime the president wants to drop his political rhetoric and actually partner with our police officers to build on the 14 percent reduction in shootings they’ve achieved this year, we’ll be ready. ”
There’s more to the story. My quick takes:
- I may have made this point before: I have been told by a White House source that a reason Trump picks on Chicago so much when it comes to crime – a serious problem in Chicago no one in City Hall or the Chicago Police Department is ignoring – is because he gets a kick out of personally needling Emanuel.
- Moreover, Trump knows that Emanuel has run a White House, as former President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff buttressed with the experience of being a top advisor to former President Bill Clinton. Whatever your views on the Obama presidency, his White House over eight years did not have the turmoil and drama and chaos Trump is grappling with six months on the job.
- Trump may also not like Emanuel’s criticisms, most recently in a June CNN interview. Last month, Emanuel said the strategy of Trump to focus on his base – (latest example, the Tuesday rally in Youngstown) serves to keep his most ardent backers “on amphetamines – highly charged.” But it may not be a winning formula “for success up and down the Republican ticket,” in 2018. Emanuel, appearing on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” discussed the chaotic Trump White House operation and the challenges Trump presents to Republicans.
So what has Trump done to help Chicago fight crime since taking office on Jan. 20? In June, the Justice Department announced the creation of a Chicago Gun Strike Force and sent 20 more permanent ATF agents to Chicago, along with telling the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago to prioritize gun violence prosecutions.
Sanctuary City crackdown proceeding, impacts Chicago and Cook County: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who stays on the job despite Trump’s humiliating him and letting him twist in the wind the past few days – instead of just firing him, which he could do – formalized previously announced steps to curb federal funds to so-called “sanctuary cities” on Tuesday unless local law enforcement cooperates more in nailing illegal immigrants.
Another Emanuel spokesman, Matt McGrath, said in a statement, “This is not the administration’s first attempt to unlawfully withhold funding, and it probably won’t be their last. But we will not be bullied into abandoning our values.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., reacting Wednesday: “The Trump administration’s announcement yesterday on sanctuary cities would jeopardize millions of dollars in funding that Illinois relies on to help fight crime and keep Illinoisans safe. The program this announcement threatens provided the state of Illinois with $10.4 million in the fiscal year of 2016 to help law enforcement.”
Speaking of the U.S. Attorney: Trump so far has yet to fill the vacancy for the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, based in Chicago. Former former prosecutor John Lausch is being vetted for the spot and is on track to be nominated.
Background: Trump highlighted Chicago’s problems with shootings during his presidential campaign, transition and has continued to do so since he took office on Jan. 20, saying in Twitter posts and speeches he will “send in the feds” to help stop the “carnage” in Chicago.