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Emanuel rips Trump for groveling to Putin, undermining US intelligence agencies

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks to reporters about President Donald Trump's performance at a summit in Helsinki, Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday eviscerated President Donald Trump for kowtowing to Vladimir Putin and demanded that Trump release details about what was discussed in the two-plus hours he spent alone with the Russian president.

“In the intelligence world, there’s a term called ‘case officer.’ I think we met Donald Trump’s case officer: President Putin. … You can play that tape fast. You can play that tape slow. We just saw what we needed to see,” the mayor said.

“The President owes the American people — and more importantly, he owes the intelligence community — all the information that was shared in those two hours that nobody [else] was present. Because there’s more questions than there are answers right now.”

Emanuel served as President Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff.

In that role, Emanuel held the highest level of security clearance and interacted regularly with the intelligence community. He also served as a brash young staffer under former President Bill Clinton.

Given what Emanuel knows and has seen over the years, the image of an American president ignoring the American intelligence community and believing Putin’s denial of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election was more than the mayor could bear.

“They took [Jared] Kushner’s security clearance away, the highest one. I never thought I’d ever say this. But, based on everything I know, I think they’ve got to start looking at whether the president of the United States should have his security clearance pulled and have it lowered,” Emanuel said.

“Because you just said that what the United States intelligence community is doing, you don’t trust. How do they walk in — from the [Defense Intelligence Agency] to the [National Security Agency], from all the entities where they grab information [and say], `Here’s what we’re hearing’ — given what they just saw a president of the United States do to them in front of a foreign leader and a foreign press corps?”

Emanuel has been engaged in a running legal and political battle against Trump, who has used Chicago as his favorite punching bag.

The no-risk battle against a Republican president in this overwhelmingly Democratic city is tailor-made to rebuild Emanuel’s national image and bolster his popularity among Chicago Hispanics most threatened by Trump’s immigration policies, and by the president’s threat to cut off funding to sanctuary cities.

The embarassing image of an American president cozying up to a Russian dictator — and ignoring the indictment of a dozen Russian intelligence officers for election collusion — was more ammunition for Emanuel’s battle with Trump.

Never mind that, back on U.S. soil, Trump tried to recover on Tuesday by saying that he “accepts” the unanimous conclusion about Russian election meddling by the U.S. intelligence community.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. … I’ve never seen a president on foreign soil take on the intelligence community that, every day, [is] trying to protect, not only America, but the most cherished thing we have, which is our Democratic process, who universally all know that Russia was behind the disruption,” the mayor said.


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“I’ve also never seen a president go into a meeting without others around. Especially given all the questions about Putin, Russia, their involvement in the Democratic process. He said this was a witch hunt even though [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller only indicted 12 Russians. … Then say that, in contradiction to every … head of an intelligence community, `You’re wrong. I just take the word of President Putin.”

Also on Tuesday, Emanuel sloughed off the Twitter controversy surrounding visionary billionaire Elon Musk, whom the mayor has chosen to build a high-speed transit system between downtown and O’Hare Airport.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is under fire and facing a potential libel suit for telling his 22 million Twitter followers that a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue was a pedophile.

“I want you to think about the twelve kids [and] their coach whose lives were saved miraculously with unbelievable international effort and remember what’s important,” the mayor said.

“I don’t know about you, but I was captured by this throughout the whole process and people from all walks of life who never met these families, but dedicated time and resources to try to save them. Forget the tweet. Forget all that. And remember what’s really important. Peoples’ lives got saved here.”