Emanuel on Solyndra: ‘It’s not about warning signs’

C.J. Ciaramella | Contributor

Funny, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel just can’t remember a darn thing about White House involvement in the $535 Department of Energy loan to bankrupt solar company Solyndra.

In an interview with Chicago radio station WLSAM on Tuesday, now-Chicago Mayor Emanuel said that, while he can’t remember anything about Solyndra because he’s so terribly focused on being mayor of Chicago, the investment had nothing to do with “warning signs.”

Emanuel originally dodged questions about Solyndra when asked by WSLAM about it several weeks ago, saying, “I don’t actually remember that or know about it.”

However, emails disclosed by the White House show pressure on the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget to approve the loan.

“Ron said this morning that the POTUS definitely wants to do this (or Rahm definitely wants the POTUS to do this?),” one White House staffer told an Obama scheduler in August 2009, referring to former Chief of Staff to the Vice President Ron Klain.

When a reporter asked if the emails had perhaps jogged Emanuel’s memory, the former White House Chief of Staff said, “No, because I’m focused on exactly what I need to do here in the city of Chicago.”

Another reporter then asked Emanuel if the Obama administration ignored warning signs on Solyndra.

“Here’s the way I look at it,” Emanuel responded. “One is, we worked real hard on saving the auto industry — about 1.2 million jobs. That was an investment of $50 billion. And its turned out against conventional wisdom to be the right thing to do.” (RELATED: Huntsman would end loan guarantee program that benefited Solyndra)

“It’s not about warning signs, etc,” Emanuel continued. “We don’t have a price on carbon. We don’t have a renewable portfolio, so the United States government is left, like it started under George Bush, doing venture capital.”

“Like venture capital, sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong, and that’s unfortunate,” Emanuel said. “Nobody takes losing money easy. But if you looked at also as an investment, there was $50 billion invested in General Motors and Chrysler, and that turned out to be the right investment.”

“So take a wide lens view of the policy,” he concluded. “I did my job as Chief of Staff. Now my job is as mayor of the city of Chicago.”

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