Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is known for his hard-charging persona when it comes to getting what he wants politically. But Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings is now alleging that the former White House chief of staff “crossed the line” by physically assaulting him during an interview.
On Thursday’s broadcast of Cenk Uygur’s “The Young Turks” on Current TV, Hastings played an audio recording of a verbal exchange he had with Emanuel that came on the heels of his 2010 Rolling Stone article “The Runway General,” which resulted in the termination of then- Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“I’m not going to let you do to me what you did to Stanley McChrystal,” Emanuel said at one point during the interview, which appears to have gone off the rails immediately after Hastings said “we’ll see” in reference to President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Emanuel also apparently did not want to be videotaped for the interview.
“I never experienced anything like this in my career from an American public official,” Hastings said. “He grabbed me — right before that exchange, he grabbed me by the arm and wouldn’t let go while his bodyguards approached me, clearly trying to intimidate me with a threat of physical violence. And look, it was abusive. I don’t mind being yelled at, like verbally abusive, fine. But I think the mayor — and I made this point in an email later to his staff, clearly crossed the line by grabbing me.”
In his recently released book, “Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign,” Hastings described Emanuel’s aggressive tactics during the exchange.
“Look, I’ve interviewed terrorist leaders, I’ve interviewed dictators,” he continued. “I’ve interviewed politicians. I’ve interviewed a lot of angry people, but none have [sic] ever laid a hand on me. Security forces, bodyguards — yeah, that comes with the territory. They’re going to knock you out of the way. But I was really surprised and, to be quite honest, shocked that he would do that. What I saw in his eyes — he did not look like a gentleman who was in full of control of what he was doing.”
Hastings said he considered filing assault charges, but didn’t want to get bogged down, noting that the case would have been tried in “his city.” Criminal assault involves knowingly placing another individual in legitimate fear of immediate physical danger, regardless of whether actual contact occurs.
Hastings said he described the incident in his book because he wanted to colorfully demonstrate some of Emanuel’s typical — and in some cases lawless — bullying tactics.