President Trump announced on Thursday that the Justice Department and the FBI would be looking into the legal case involving former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
From USA Today:
Local prosecutors in Chicago announced Tuesday they were dropping disorderly conduct charges against Smollett for filing a false police report. The decision came less than three weeks after the actor was indicted on charges that he paid two men to stage a hoax attack to make him look like the victim of a racist hate crime.
Smollett’s legal team is taking offense with comments to the media by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office officials, saying prosecutors and police are “continuing their campaign” against the actor. Prosecutors said they’ve dropped the charges, but insist that doesn’t mean Smollett was exonerated of wrongdoing.
“It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” Trump said in a tweet about the case.
“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago,” he added.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were similarly outraged by the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said via USA Today. “It’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. He’s still saying he’s innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare he? How dare he?”
"This is a whitewash of justice," @ChicagosMayor says of @JussieSmollett charges being dropped. "A grand jury could not have been clearer. Where is the accountability in the system?"https://t.co/HxcVDpr78e pic.twitter.com/WKOsGfiMTo
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 28, 2019
“He’s saying he’s innocent and his words aren’t true,” Emanuel said on “Good Morning America,” ABC News reports. “They better get their story straight. This is actually making a fool of all of us.”
ABC News also reports the Cook County State Attorney Kimberly Foxx who decided to dismiss the charges against Smollett said she provided no special treatment:
She said Smollett was allowed to dispose of his case through an alternative prosecution program, just like 5,700 other people her office has charged with low-level felonies over the past two years.
In an interview with ABC News, Foxx said Smollett qualified for alternative prosecution because he doesn’t have a history of violence, lacks a criminal record and was charged with a class four felony, which is one step above a misdemeanor. She said her office would rather put resources towards prosecuting violent criminals.
Foxx said in a separate interview with ABC station WLS-TV that while Smollett was not found guilty in a court of law, “I believe, based on the facts and the evidence presented in the charging decision made by this office, this office believes that they could prove him guilty.”
“I think this office, based on the charging decision, believes he is culpable of doing that,” Foxx said.
Smollett initially alleged he was the victim of a hate crime when he claimed two men attacked him for his race and because he was gay. Those men, Smollett claimed, hurled homophobic and racist slurs, beat him, tied a noose around his neck, and pour bleach on him.
A law enforcement investigation later concluded Smollett was the orchestrator of the crime and paid the two men to carry out the staged assault.
State prosecutors then looked to charge Smollet before seemingly arbitrarily dropping the charges.
“Police and prosecutors say Smollett paid two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, $3,500 to stage an attack on Smollett near his apartment building in Chicago’s swanky Streeterville neighborhood, in which he was made to look like the victim of a vicious hate crime,” USA Today reports.
The report continued: “Police identified Smollett as a victim of an attack for weeks after the incident. The case shifted gears after the Osundairo brothers, who were on the cusp of being charged by police, told investigators that they worked with Smollett to carry out the attack.”
According to the report, the actor conducted the attack to gain prestige and a pay raise.