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Emanuel deposed in bodyguard lawsuit: ‘No idea,’ ‘can’t remember’

Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered sworn testimony in a lawsuit filed by former bodyguards of Mayor Richard M. Daley. | Sun-Times file photo

When a group of lawyers finally got Mayor Rahm Emanuel under oath this week, he said the words “no idea” 12 times.

Occasionally, he said “I don’t remember” or “I can’t recall.” And he referenced his last job — chief of staff to President Barack Obama — on at least four occasions during a rare deposition Wednesday afternoon at City Hall.

But Emanuel also explained to lawyers for 11 jilted Richard M. Daley bodyguards that he put then-interim Police Supt. Terry Hillard in charge of picking his security detail after he became mayor-elect in 2011. He said he told Hillard to simply “make it smaller, and make it as diverse as the City of Chicago.”

Beyond that, he said he didn’t know how his security team was chosen after his election.

The former bodyguards to ex-Mayor Daley claim they were pushed out of their security specialist jobs after Emanuel’s election because of racial bias and political clout — and in favor of police officers who volunteered as Emanuel’s drivers during the campaign. They’ve taken their lawsuit against the city to trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

A jury found last week that racial bias didn’t taint decisions about who got jobs as Emanuel’s bodyguards, but remaining political claims by four of the officers are now being considered by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.

However, the Daley bodyguards’ lawyers have now succeeded where many have failed — managing to get Emanuel under oath, even though he didn’t appear on a witness stand in open court. A transcript of the deposition was released Thursday afternoon. Edward Fox, a lawyer for the jilted former bodyguards, warned Leinenweber earlier in the day that, “the mayor didn’t know anything about anything” during the deposition.

Emanuel answered questions for about 30 minutes, producing a 38-page transcript. He said and spelled his name for the record, and he even confirmed he is the mayor of Chicago. He later explained that, in 2011, “my focus on my campaign was about the campaign I was running.”

“I told Terry Hillard: ‘This is your job, not mine. I got a whole transition I got to worry about. You make — This is your professionalism, this is your responsibility, and your expertise,” Emanuel said.

The mayor also cracked jokes when he was shown photos from a Chicago Bulls game the lawyers asked him about. He said he didn’t remember attending. But in his answers, he referenced his special assistant, Michael Faulman.

“Well, I can say that the guy dressed as Benny the Bull is not Mike Faulman,” Emanuel said. “… Was that helpful?”

Then he added, “and that he’s not on the security detail.”

When the deposition finally ended, Emanuel told Fox to “have a good day.”

Emanuel Deposition