Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker explains why he thinks Biden should select Tammy Duckworth for VP

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’s pushed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to pick Sen. Tammy Duckworth as his running mate, arguing that she would highlight President Trump’s successful attempts to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War.

Trump “ran away from service at a time when the country needed him,” Pritzker, a Democrat, said during a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.

Biden has said he will announce his selection next week, and Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, is among a handful of women he is said to be most seriously considering for the job. Duckworth is a combat veteran who lost her legs and some mobility in her right arm in 2004 after a helicopter she was flying in Iraq was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Trump, meanwhile, was excused from military service in the 1960s after a doctor diagnosed him as having bone spurs in his heels. “I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels,” Trump told the New York Times in 2016.

“A war hero would make a terrific vice president of the United States,” Pritzker said. “I think that she not only has proven herself to be a great legislator, but also she will show up Donald Trump as someone who ran away from service at a time when the country needed him, and he’s not somebody that stands up for the military. He runs away.”

Pritzker, a former entrepreneur and Hyatt Hotels heir who spent a large chunk of his personal fortune to get elected, also told Yahoo News he will not tolerate federal agents descending on Chicago to disturb citizens who are peacefully protesting.

For several weeks, federal law enforcement agents have battled protesters in Portland, Ore., although the operation now appears to be winding down. Trump has suggested he would send federal agents to other cities that have seen protests against police violence, including Chicago.

Last month the president blasted Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for not doing enough to control the city’s rampant gun violence. Murders have surged in Chicago this year, with 414 killings compared with 275 by this time last year. On May 31, 18 people were killed in a single 24-hour period, breaking modern records in a city that has long contended with violent crime.

Pritzker said federal agents are now arriving in Chicago, but only to work with the police on violent crime investigations and not to control protests.

“We’re always on alert and deeply concerned that President Trump will try to do in Chicago what he has done in Portland,” Pritzker said. “Sending those Federal Protective Service troops to really cause mayhem where there didn’t need to be any — that was a deep concern of mine, and I expressed it loudly and often before we saw any agents arrive.”

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2019/03/25: U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) seen speaking during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Pritzker said the federal investigators in Chicago are working with the local office of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He added that plans were made several weeks ago for them to assist with violent crime investigations.

But he said he is planning to continue to monitor their work in the city because “frankly, every day I wake up concerned that the federal government, that Donald Trump will turn it into Portland.”

“We need to take the temperature down, and putting out secret police forces that people don’t know where they came from or what they’re doing there, that doesn’t help at all,” Pritzker continued. “There were protests that were very important for people to hear around the racial inequities that exist in our society, and I think people of all stripes, political stripes and otherwise, have come to understand that we must address that now. That is not something that needs to be put down by police.”

Pritzker also commented on Illinois state House Speaker and Democratic Party Chair Michael Madigan, who was recently implicated in a bribery scheme by federal officials. Madigan has not been charged with a crime but has been publicly linked by prosecutors to a scandal involving an energy utility.

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers in Illinois have called on Madigan to resign, though Pritzker has so far only said Madigan should leave office if the allegations prove true. Asked about his position, he elaborated, calling the allegations “serious.”

“Let’s start with the fact that this massive utility has committed massive infractions,” Pritzker said.

“They’ve been found guilty, essentially. They’ve pled guilty, and in the process of that, all kinds of things are coming to light, and we need answers to those questions, because there hasn’t been any direct indictment. There’s an implication, absolutely, about a number of people in there. We need to know much, much more. But the truth is that we have a real problem here. There is no doubt about it.”


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