DOWNTOWN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted making mistakes, but said he's never considered quitting in a wide-ranging, sometimes testy interview with the Internet news site Politico Wednesday morning.
"Sure, I made mistakes," Emanuel said, when asked about the handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting.
He said the delay in releasing police dashcam video of the shooting had "built up suspicions," but pointed out changes made since, such as the firing of Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and the appointment of a task force on police accountability announced Tuesday.
Asked what he thought about his "heartless" image, Emanuel said he had made some tough decisions and stood by them, encouraging that perception.
"We're all more complicated, complex persons than when people just present us in one dimension," he said.
"I'm a work in progress, like any other human being," he added. "Sorry, I'm a human being, and I do what I can, and I do what I have to do."
He quickly added, "I'm comfortable with who I am and what I've done. I'm not perfect. But like everything I try to do what's right."
Politico's White House correspondent Mike Allen said he sensed the emotion in what Emanuel was saying, but the mayor lashed back sarcastically, "No, you're hearing something else."
He was noticeably irked toward the end of the 50-minute interview when Allen revealed that Emanuel was taking his family to Cuba this year for their annual holiday trip — a detail Emanuel said he had shared in private backstage. He asked for Allen's cellphone number so Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, could call him and give him a tongue-lashing.
Emanuel said he was canceling his trip to a Paris conference on climate change this week in order to deal with the fallout from the McDonald video and the McCarthy firing.
The mayor said he had never considered quitting, and when asked why quipped, "Because I really so much looked forward to this interview."
Otherwise, Emanuel mostly stuck to the comments he made Tuesday in announcing the removal of McCarthy, saying, "He has become the issue rather than dealing with the issue."
Emanuel dodged questions on the continuing investigation into the video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, saying that it would be settled by a ongoing federal probe and that he had not seen a surveillance video taken at a Burger King near the shooting site at 41st Street and Pulaski Road — a video some have suggested has been tampered with.
"If you're worried about a cover-up, the last person you want looking at that is me," Emanuel said.
Emanuel insisted he was not concerned about a possible Chicago teachers strike, saying, "We have a lot more in common than disagreements," and that he has confidence Chicago Public Schools may yet get needed additional funding from Springfield, especially if teachers join in lobbying.
Yet he was heckled on that note by Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union, who was ushered out.
Asked if his re-election campaign would have turned out differently if the McDonald video had been released before the April runoff, Emanuel said, "That's a hypothetical I can't answer."
The breakfast interview took place at the Willis Tower, with Politico's Illinois Playbook columnist Natasha Korecki also asking questions.
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