Rep. Jamaal Bowman Criticizes Biden Nomination of Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador to Japan

Progressive Democratic New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman criticized the Biden administration for nominating former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan.

In a tweet, Bowman said the news was "the last thing we needed to see at the end of this tragic week."

The last thing we needed to see at the end of this tragic week is this.

When elected officials use their power against Black lives, they should not receive this honor.

We still remember Laquan McDonald.

— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) August 20, 2021

"When elected officials use their power against Black lives, they should not receive this honor. We still remember Laquan McDonald," Bowman wrote, referencing the victim of a 2014 police shooting.

Under Emanuel's administration, Chicago city lawyers fought to hide police dashboard camera video of McDonald, a Black teen, being shot 16 times in the back by an officer as McDonald posed no clear danger, Newsweek previously reported.

Other progressive Democratic lawmakers also took to Twitter to voice their concerns with the nomination. Missouri Rep. Cori Bush wrote that Emanuel must "be disqualified from ever holding an appointed position in any administration."

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones called the nomination a "travesty" and called on "senators of good conscience" to vote against him.

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said the Senate "must reject his appointment immediately."

Moderate Democrats, however, tweeted their support for Emanuel's nomination. Former President Bill Clinton called him a smart decision maker and experienced leader. House Majority Whip James Clyburn also said he supports the nomination.

"I worked closely with him in Congress and when he served as Chief of Staff to President Obama. He has the experience necessary to advance our country's strategic objectives," Clyburn wrote.

Progressives had previously urged the then-incoming Biden administration not to nominate Emanuel for a Cabinet position.

Bowman said in a November 23 tweet Emanuel should "not be considered for any" Cabinet position following a report he was being considered for transportation secretary, a position ultimately filled by Pete Buttigieg.

Rahm Emanuel should not be considered for any position within the Biden administration.

— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) November 23, 2020

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also expressed opposition to Emanuel for potential Cabinet post last November.

"What is so hard to understand about this?" she wrote. "Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership. This is not about the 'visibility' of a post. It is shameful and concerning that he is even being considered."

McDonald's great uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, previously told Newsweek in November that he was furious that Emanuel was in contention for a Biden administration role, calling it a "slap in the face" to the Black Americans that helped elect him to the White House.

"We do not need people like this in American government, he does not represent what a democracy is," he added. "When a person shows you who he is, you have to believe them and he has shown us who he is, being the mayor of one of the largest cities in the United States of America."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Bowman's office for further comment Saturday morning, but had not heard back by publication. This article will be updated with any response.

Rahm Emanuel

Progressives have criticized the President Joe Biden over his plan to nominate Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan. Here, Emanuel visits WSJ at Large on August 1, 2019. Steven Ferdman/Getty Images