Rahm Emanuel: We're sending Jussie Smollett a bill for the police investigation

Congrats to Rahm on winning the Republican nomination for president.

Seriously, while his outrage is understandable, it is … strange for a Democratic politician to behave this way. Emanuel may be retiring as mayor but he has a past and potentially a future in national politics, and being The Policeman’s Best Friend isn’t the strongest brand for a Dem hoping to return to national relevance. What’s his angle?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he plans to have the city’s Law Department bill “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for the costs of the Chicago Police Department investigation that determined he was lying about being the victim of a hate crime in January…

“Given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the word ‘I’m accountable for the hoax,’” Emanuel said at an unrelated event on Thursday.

You’re thinking, “Maybe he’s sincerely appalled at Smollett walking free, like most people are, and wants to make him atone however he can.” No doubt, but he could have communicated that with a short statement, not an angry TV press conference and a demand for reimbursement days later. A politician as successful as Rahm tends not to do things against his own political self-interest — and this is against his self-interest, nationally at least. Remember, his biggest liability as mayor was how his office suppressed the video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The backlash to that, especially among black voters, may have convinced Emanuel that he was a dead man walking in a mayoral primary, leading to his decision to retire. The obvious move if you’re a pol looking to rebuild goodwill after something like that is not to double down on your alliance with the police by going all-in on indignation on their behalf just because they were forced to waste some time investigating Jussie Smollett’s nonsense.

In fact, lefty friends on Twitter are noting the irony of Emanuel complaining about the cost of the Smollett investigation when misconduct by Chicago’s police force has cost the city waaaaaay more. How much more? In 2016, an AP investigation found that since 2004 Chicago had paid — wait for it — $662 million in judgments, settlements, and outside legal fees. Three days before the charges against Smollett were dismissed, a jury awarded $5.1 million to the family of a black man who was shot and killed by a white Chicago cop in 2014. Nothing in the world was more foreseeable than Emanuel getting savaged for having his priorities out of whack by making a show of his contempt for Smollett when his PD is notorious for abuse.

Yet he did it anyway. Again, why?

Maybe it’s personal:

It’s possible, I guess, that he’s planning to run in some purplish district somewhere in the future and thinks this might help him. But where? Would he really want to go back to the House? If he’s thinking of running for governor or Senate, he’ll have the same primary problem that forced him to pull the plug on his reelection bid for mayor. And if he’s hoping to join the next Democratic administration as an advisor, this week’s display will only make it that much riskier politically for a Democratic president to appoint him. I don’t get it. Maybe he’s planning to retire from politics altogether and this is his middle finger to the left on his way out the door?

Exit question: Why would Smollett owe Chicago reimbursement when he hasn’t been convicted of anything? Go ask Kim Foxx for the money.