Quick to mention Chicago, President Donald Trump in recent days said he was planning a new law enforcement initiative that would be announced this week — and this morning my Tribune colleagues were out with the scoop: Homeland of Security plans to send 150 federal agents here to fight gang crime.
Neither the president during a news conference today in Washington, nor his communications team in an emailed request from The Spin would answer questions about it.
The Republican president, hammering home a law-and-order message as he heads into the home stretch of an up-in-the-air reelection bid, has been hammering cities led by Democratic mayors — particularly Chicago and New York City — that have seen spikes in violent crime. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she has “great concerns about it,” especially after talking with the mayor of Portland, where Oregon’s attorney general is suing a series of federal agencies saying federal agents in unmarked vehicles have picked up people in the streets without warrants.
Lightfoot hesitantly added her voice to the small choir of Democrats calling on Michael Madigan, the state’s powerful party chair and state House speaker, to step down if federal prosecutors’ allegations laid out in court records against Commonwealth Edison prove true.
The mayor’s office today also put out some big news: Starting this weekend, the city is all but closing down bars that don’t serve food as COVID-19 cases inch up in Chicago.
Welcome to The Spin.
The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Jeremy Gorner write: “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.”
While one city official said they were aware of the plan, Chicago police declined to comment, Pratt and Gorner report. Read the full story here.
Asked by a reporter today at the White House, President Trump didn’t directly say he was sending in federal agents but mentioned Chicago as among the troubled cities where “we’ll have more federal law enforcement — that I can tell you,” the president said.
“I’m going to do something that I can tell you, because we’re not going to leave New York and Chicago and Philadelphia Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess ... we’re not going to let this happen in our country, all run by liberal Democrats,” the president told reporters.
“In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job,” Trump said. Local officials and protesters disagree. In addition to Oregon’s attorney general filing a civil rights lawsuit over federal officers taking custody of protesters, the governor has asked the agents to be removed and the state’s two senators along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have been highly critical of the deployment of federal agents in the city, where protests — some violent — have unfolded almost nightly in the aftermath of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Trump says some of the people who have taken over the streets are violent anarchists — not people who are protesting for a cause. He also asserted that all manner of Democratic elected leaders — from U.S. senators to the mayor — are “afraid” of the so-called anarchists and won’t rid the streets of them, so he’s going to.
71 shot, 12 fatally in Chicago weekend violence: Read the Tribune story here.
Chicago FOP boss, a Trump supporter, pens letter to president asking for federal help to tamp down violence: report — Read the NBC5 story here.
Related — Lightfoot: “Vigilantes” infiltrated peaceful protest, sparking clash with Chicago police officers in Grant Park: It looked like a scene out of 1968, police officers going toe-to-toe with protesters who showed up in Grant Park as the city played host to the Democratic National Convention. Only it was Friday night and the protesters — as Lightfoot described it — infiltrated by “vigilantes” were spoiling for a “fight” with police and trying to bring down a statue of Christopher Columbus. In some ways, she echoed Trump when he described the protest scene in Portland. Gregory Pratt has the details here.
Police say attacks at Grant Park protest appeared organized as more than 20 complaints are filed against cops: Read the Tribune story here.
Also: Bricks tossed through windows of Ald. Ray Lopez’s Southwest Side city office: His home was similarly vandalized earlier this month. A frequent critic of the mayor, Lopez took to Twitter and blasted her over the incident at his office this weekend and posted photos of the broken windows. Read the Tribune story here.
Lightfoot said she has “great concerns” about federal agents being dispatched to Chicago and that she spoke with Portland’s Mayor Wheeler over the weekend.
“I spent a lot of time yesterday talking with the mayor of Portland, to get a sense of what’s happened there. We don’t need a federal agent, without any insignia, taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” the mayor said, referring to allegations that agents were arresting people on the street and placing them in unmarked vans. “That’s not what we do.”
She also said that if Trump “is truly sincere about wanting to help, there are a number of things that the federal government is uniquely qualified to do that we could use his help with and they all revolve around the fact that we have way too many illegal guns on our streets.” Read the full story, including a snipped about a 4-page letter the mayor penned to Trump, here.
She then ticked off a list of items, including “fully fund the ATF here in Chicago,” she said of the local arm of the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose duties include keeping an eye on illegal gun trafficking.
“He could fully fund additional prosecutors to focus on gun violence cases. He could empower the ATF to actually do what they’re supposed to do, which is go after illegal gun sales ... go after federally licensed gun dealers that aren’t doing their job, or selling to people that they know are straw purchasers that have no intent whatsoever to possess those guns and turn them over in a parking lot to the real person who’s going to take those guns.”
Let’s rewind. On Friday, hours after federal prosecutors in Chicago released details of their case against ComEd, things were awfully quiet in Democratic circles.
The Tribune’s Rick Pearson wrote over the weekend: “The extent of Madigan’s power over Democratic politics was evident from the muted responses of a number of members of his own House majority after federal prosecutors implicated the nation’s longest-serving statehouse leader as the beneficiary of a near-decadelong bribery and influence scheme conducted through Commonwealth Edison.”
Madigan has not been charged with wrongdoing, and his spokeswoman, Maura Possley, released a statement Friday: “The speaker accepted subpoenas related to his various offices for documents,” Possley said. “He will cooperate and respond to those requests for documents, which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper.”
Nevertheless, Gov. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle both took a firm line right away that Madigan should resign if the allegations are true. But the mayor, a formal federal prosecutor, said it wasn’t her place to weigh in on Madigan because he hadn’t been charged with a crime.
Now, as Gregory Pratt, Jamie Munks and I write in a new piece, Democrats in the state House Progressive Caucus and, almost hesitantly, the mayor, are echoing Preckwinkle and the governor’s comments. Read the story here.
Pressed at a news conference today by NBC-Ch. 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, the mayor first said the allegations were “quite disturbing” and then pointed to ComEd, which will be summoned to testify at the city’s Energy Committee on July 30 to “give account for ... their conduct.”
Then Lightfoot, who campaigned on a platform of ethics and transparency, gave the windup and finally the pitch: “I don’t think it’s for my purposes as mayor, when there’s been no criminal charge against anyone as an elected official, for me to say that the person should resign. I thought the governor and (Chicago state Rep.) Kelly Cassidy and it sounds like now others said it right, if those allegations are true, obviously, he should resign. But we don’t know that they are true, yet.”
Family questions whether ComEd bribery scheme played a role in state’s decision not to fully investigate electrocution: The Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair has the details here.
Federal investigators looking at Pritzker tax break, others during Joe Berrios’ time as Cook County assessor: The Tribune’s Hal Dardick and Todd Lighty have the details here.
Shortly after the mayor’s news conference ended this morning, where inquiring reporters might want to know more, the Lightfoot administration issued an announcement that she was scaling back bar operations in order to curb an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt, Josh Noel, Grace Wong and Howard Reich write: “Chicago bars will no longer be allowed to serve alcohol indoors starting this Friday as part of a new effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.”
While the announcement was abrupt, they write, “it wasn’t entirely unexpected either. Lightfoot was slow to reopen bars in Chicago, saying she was concerned about people losing their inhibitions and behaving irresponsibly under the influence.”
And in recent weeks, Lightfoot has warned that she would not hesitate to roll back some restrictions if there is a spike in cases. Her administration has been warning about an uptick in COVID-19 cases among young residents as people flock to bars.
Gyms and other personal services also are seeing new restrictions. Read the story here.
Other news: Chicago fast-food workers join ‘Strike for Black Lives’ with march downtown: The Tribune’s Abdel Jimenez has more here.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is shoring up his campaign team in neighboring Wisconsin — a crucial swing state that Republican President Donald Trump won by just over 20,000 votes in 2016. The New York Times reported yesterday that Biden has an edge right now over Trump in polls.
According to a news release from the Biden campaign, they include: Tanya Bjork, who becomes the campaign’s strategic adviser after working on the last three Democratic presidential campaigns in Wisconsin (she was in senior leadership in both of Barack Obama’s campaigns and as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign); John Laadt, tapped to become Wisconsin deputy state director after serving in a number of roles for the Biden camp including Massachusetts state director and leading primary efforts in Wisconsin; and Chris Walloch, now the Wisconsin coordinated campaign director after leading campaign efforts during the 2018 campaign cycle.
Chicago musician Kanye West failed to get the 10,000 petition signatures needed to get on South Carolina’s 2020 presidential ballot by today’s noon deadline despite hosting a rally in the state the previous day, the Post and Courier reports.
At yesterday’s event — West’s first since declaring himself a presidential candidate — he ranted against historical figure Harriet Tubman, an African American woman who escaped slavery and worked to help others do the same. West said the Underground Railroad conductor “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people,” The Associated Press reports.
West became tearful at one point while talking about his mother, who died following plastic surgery complications in 2007. Read the full AP story here.
Republican congressional candidate Jeanne Ives is challenging first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten to five broadcast debates — one in each of the west and northwest suburban counties that make up the 6th District — before the November election. That includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.
“The debates will be safe, publicly broadcast debates,” Ives’ campaign team said in a statement.
In response, Casten — who flipped a reliably red seat in the midterm blue wave — said only that he would be participating in a single debate on Sept. 21.
That debate, expected to be broadcast, will be hosted by 10 League of Women Voters local chapters from across the 6th — groups representing all five counties in the District, said campaign manager Chloe Hunt.
Both quick and fiery orators — with Ives known for making controversial comments — it will be riveting to watch. With Casten holding a huge fundraising lead over Ives, a one-time state representative who nearly unseated then Gov. Bruce Rauner in the GOP primary in 2018, multiple debates would give her more on-air time without having to fork over the money.
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