CBS News host Norah O’Donnell on Tuesday called out Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for telling Attorney General Eric Holder to “shut the fuck up” about reinstating the assault weapons ban when both men worked for President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009.
According to Daniel Klaidman’s book, Kill or Capture, Emmanuel was serving as the White House chief of staff and became enraged after hearing that Holder had given a speech vowing to keep Obama’s campaign promise to ban assault weapons.
“The comments roused the powerful gun lobby and its water carriers on Capitol Hill. ‘Senators to Attorney General: Stay Away from Our Guns’ read a press release issued by Senator Max Baucus of Montana — a Democrat, no less,” Klaidman wrote. “Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda.”
“The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to ‘shut the fuck up’ on guns…”
In his first interview after ABC’s Jake Tapper published an excerpt of the book, Emmanuel told O’Donnell that the assault weapons ban would have to be on the agenda after an AR-15 assault rifle was used to slaughter 20 children in Connecticut last week.
“You sent word to Justice that Holder need to shut [the fuck] up on guns,” O’Donnell reminded the former White House chief of staff.
“First of all, that’s a book,” Emmanuel replied, without denying the allegation. “President Obama always stood for getting this done, number one. Number two, I passed the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban [while Bill Clinton was president]. And it is very important that we do that.”
“The fact is in 2009, the president and the entire government was very focused — as the attorney general knows — in getting all of the president’s legislation done and working with Congress to do that.”
“I want you to explained that,” O’Donnell pressed. “Because were you worried about the political backlash of taking on and pushing for the assault weapons ban? Why didn’t Obama do that?”
“First of all, the president’s record is very clear on this,” the Chicago mayor insisted. “It was clear when he was a state senator, it was clear when he was also a U.S. senator, it was clear also as president. And he was dealing — as you well know — with a myriad of issues. And he was pushing very hard and making sure also that we had the funding to do everything we needed to do in the Justice Department.”
The CBS host noted that the Brady Campaign had given the president an F on control during his first term and that the White House had even turned down a Justice Department recommendation for expanding background checks after the theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year.
“Having fought to pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban the last time you really had gun control, it is very hard [to take on the NRA],” Emmanuel explained. “And that why I think now the proximity to the vote is very, very important. And I think it’s essential to have a vote of conscience, put it up, people know what happened here.”
“There’s no doubt you have an event that’s changed everybody’s attitude,” he added.
Watch this video from CBS’ This Morning, broadcast Dec. 18, 2012.