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Rahm Emanuel: Justice Dept., Trump Trying to 'Exaggerate' Chicago's Crime Problem

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at a news conference Aug. 6, 20128. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused President Trump of exaggerating the Windy City’s crime problem for political gain, and added that “it’d be nice to have a Justice Department that works with you than try to exaggerate problems.”

There were 650 homicides in the city last year and 762 in 2016; so far this year, there have been 455 homicides in Chicago, according to the Sun-Times’ list. Most of the deaths have been due to gun violence.

“We’re going to straighten it out. We’re going to straighten it out fast. There’s no reason for what’s going on there,” Trump said earlier this month at a law enforcement convention in Orlando. “I know the law enforcement people in Chicago, and I know how good they are. They could solve the problem if they were simply allowed to do their job and do their job properly and that’s what they want to do. So Chicago, we are going to start working with you as of today.”

Trump promoted stop-and-frisk, arguing “it was meant for problems like Chicago,” but later said he was open to other ideas when Kanye West visited the Oval Office to lobby against stop-and-frisk.

At CNN’s CITIZEN conference in New York today, Emanuel said Trump was wrong about his characterization of Chicago’s crime spike, noting “there’s a lot of challenges like other cities that had it.”

“Bill Bratton was just in town the other day and said Chicago’s doing exactly the right thing, which is going to a predictive proactive professional model,” he said of the former NYPD commissioner.

“Look, Donald Trump is trying to play politics with an issue that is literally life and death and matter issues. We’re professionalizing our police department to represent the whole city, and making progress in fighting crime,” the mayor added. “…As I told the press the other day in Chicago, he’s playing you. I got real work to do; I’m not playing this game.”

Of Trump’s criticism of the city, Emanuel said, “Well, guess what? Chicago doesn’t like Donald Trump. So we’re even.”

He added that he sees “just a lot of political reasons that [Trump] tries to use it as an organizing tool for the rest of the Midwest.”

Emanuel said he doesn’t think Democrats should be talking impeachment “because it creates a rift” when “your goal in an election is to keep your base not just energized, but motivated.”

“And to also make sure that the swing-motivated swing voters, or the voters that will determine election outcomes, both, across the House, the Senate, and the gubernatorial, come your way,” he added. “And that election – that method only plays into, you know, you’re basically leading with your chin.”

To get those votes, though, he said Democrats shouldn’t move right on immigration. “It would be a tactical thing and people would read through it. There’s a more robust message we should have about immigration. And I think that would be a mistake,” Emanuel said.

“So there’s both a political and a policy. If you’re just talking about politics I think that the discussion of family issues would work well in the House because that has to do with family separation at the border in the House races. And it would work there. But I actually think it is a — what Democrats should do is talk correctly about immigration… their policy needs reform and it needs comprehensive reform. It has to deal with both skilled, unskilled… and it has to deal with both being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he said. “And you know, you are talking to the son and the grandson of an immigrant. My grandfather came here a hundred years ago, being here to Chicago. My father came, in the ’50s, from Israel.”

Today in Chicago, Emanuel noted, more than 140 languages are spoken in public schools.

“Their parents have the same aspiration that you and I have for our children, regardless of where they came from,” he said. “And that, to me, is a unifying aspirational part of integration, and that’s where we should be because it’s true to who we are.”