Hillary Clinton said on the campaign trail in Iowa on Friday that she still has confidence in embattled Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is facing pressure to resign from office for his handling of the release of a video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot by a city police officer last year.
Clinton has been tight-lipped about Emanuel, who served as an aide to Bill Clinton and as chief of staff to President Obama. As pressure mounted this week against him, the former secretary of state said on Wednesday that she supports a federal investigation into the Chicago police department because of the disturbing video, which shows officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times.
Emanuel initially opposed that idea but has since relented.
But Clinton is not fully breaking with Emanuel, a former U.S. congressman and powerful figure in the Democratic party.
Asked by reporters in Fort Dodge, Iowa on Friday whether she still has confidence in her old friend, Clinton said “I do,” according to Bloomberg Politics.
“He loves Chicago and I’m confident that he’s going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of these issues and take whatever measures are necessary to remedy them,” added Clinton, a Chicago-area native.
Clinton’s vote of confidence comes on the heels of slew of news outlets and activists demanding Emanuel’s resignation. The New York Times editorial board — among others — accused Emanuel of blocking the release of the video showing McDonald’s shooting death because to do otherwise would have harmed his re-election chances. Emanuel defeated progressive Democratic city councilman Chuy Garcia in a runoff in April.
Emanuel has also been criticized for saying that he did not watch the video until it was released to the public late last month. The release came only because a judge ordered it. Emanuel and the city had refused to release the footage, saying that doing so would hamper the investigation of Van Dyke.
But Van Dyke was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on the same day that the video was released, leading many to question why Van Dyke wasn’t arrested sooner if the video was so damning.
Emanuel has been criticized on other fronts as well. He fired Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy earlier this week even though he had expressed confidence in his handling of the investigation into the shooting. If McCarthy deserved punishment then Emanuel did too, many argued.
Emanuel and city officials have also come under fire for entering an agreement in April, just after he was re-elected, to pay McDonald’s family $5 million as part of a settlement agreement. As part of the deal, the video was not to be released to the public.
Clinton’s support for Emanuel can’t sit well for a major constituency whose support she seeks in the upcoming primaries. Activists with groups like Black Lives Matter have protested over the shooting and the city’s slow investigation.