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Rahm Backtracks On Federal Investigation Into Chicago Police Dept.

By Kate Shepherd in News on Dec 4, 2015 2:34PM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would now welcome a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department in the wake of the controversy surrounding the city's handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting, he announced in a statement Thursday.

"First and foremost, we need answers as to what happened in the Laquan McDonald case, which is why the United States Attorney should swiftly conclude his year-long investigation and shed light on what happened that night, and the actions of everyone involved," he said in the statement.

It's a change in course from the mayor, who said Wednesday that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's call for a DOJ investigation was misguided, according to the Sun-Times.

But more prominent politicians are echoing Madigan's sentiment. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also expressed her support Wednesday for a federal probe into CPD tactics, according to the Tribune. Clinton is "deeply troubled" by the McDonald shooting and the "outstanding questions" the incident raises, her spokesman Brian Fallon told the newspaper.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who's under criticism for waiting 13 months to charge police officer Jason Van Dyke for Laquan McDonald's death, announced that she supports an investigation, according to the Tribune.

However Alvarez does not support Cook County Commissioners Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and John Fritchey's proposed County Board hearing about why it took more than a year to charge Van Dyke.

It's not yet clear whether Emanuel's and Alvarez's support of a DOJ investigation into CPD will quell the calls for them to each step down. Emanuel has been criticized widely by the national media for his handling of the case, including by the New York Times editorial board:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel demonstrated a willful ignorance when he talked about the murder charges against the police officer who shot Mr. McDonald, seeking to depict the cop as a rogue officer. He showed a complete lack of comprehension on Tuesday when he explained that he had decided to fire his increasingly unpopular police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, not because he failed in his leadership role, but because he had become 'a distraction.'

It's impossible for the mayor to regain the trust of Chicagoans after they've seen how far his administration went to hide the McDonald shooting video, according to National Journal columnist Ron Fournier.

"They won't trust a task force ap­poin­ted by this may­or," he said. "They know a fish rots from the head."