Obama stands by scandal-scarred Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel

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President Obama's current chief of staff gave a ringing endorsement of Obama's former chief of staff, embattled Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, on Sunday, saying that Obama still retains confidence in Emanuel.


Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Denis McDonough refused to join the chorus of voices calling on Emanuel to resign in the wake of a seemingly endless string of scandals surrounding the Chicago Police Department. Emanuel's approval rating plunged to 18 percent in one December poll.

All of this has left President Obama in a tricky position. Emanuel is not just the Democratic mayor of Obama's hometown. He was also Obama's first chief of staff and remains a political ally.

Judging from McDonough's comments about Emanuel on Sunday, though, Obama has decided to stick by the mayor.

"The city looks great," he said. The opportunities there are boundless. I think what the president sees is a city and a people of Chicago, and a mayor of Chicago that continue to do very good work."

Host Chuck Todd asked if Obama was confident in Emanuel's leadership. "The president is," McDonough said.


The mayor has been left severely battered by the multi-pronged crisis. Most prominently, there is the drama over his handling of the shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Emanuel has been forced to rebuff charges that he led the efforts to suppress a video showing McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer in order to bolster his bid for reelection. On Saturday, CNN reported that witnesses to the shooting had alleged that they had been threatened by police and ordered to falsify their accounts of the killing.

Emanuel is also dealing with the fatal police shootings of 19-year-old college student Quintonio LeGrier and his neighbor, 55-year-old mother, grandmother and cancer survivor Bettie Jones. Lurking in the background is the continued controversy over the Homan Square detention center, which some have compared to a CIA black site.