In this latest installment of the Smollett saga, it’s Cook County that strikes back at the Empire star.
On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb announced that six new charges have been filed against Jussie Smollett relating to the 2019 hate hoax.
The new charges were sure to reignite many of the tensions that surrounded Smollett a year ago. When his claims first emerged, he drew a groundswell of support from fans and celebrities and gave an emotional television interview about the attack.
The case came to reflect the polarized state of political discourse in America. Many Democrats initially called it a shocking instance of Trump-era racism and hate, while Republicans depicted it as yet another example of liberals rushing to judgment and disparaging the president’s supporters as bigots.
Source: Associated Press
Despite the mountain of evidence and his conspirators coming forward, Smollett insisted that he didn’t make up the story and he was the victim of a hate crime.
Cook County special prosecutor Dan Webb revealed the former “Empire” star had been hit with six new counts of disorderly conduct, accusing Smollett of lying to the Chicago Police Department about the January 2019 incident.
Webb’s investigation revealed that Smollett “planned and participated in a staged crime attack,” and then “made numerous false statements … reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said in news release.
As a quick refresher, Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime. He claimed that two masked men approached him in the middle of the night in Chicago during a polar vortex and said, “This is MAGA country” before attacking him, putting a rope around his neck and splashing him with bleach. Smollett defended himself against his two much larger attackers with only a footlong Subway sandwich and his wits. Later, two brothers of Nigerian descent who had worked with Smollett, came forward saying that he paid them to commit the attack. It appears that Smollett was hoping to get some sympathetic media attention to aid in his salary negotiations.
On March 8, 2019, Smollett was hit with a 16-count felony indictment for filing a false police report, but Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all charges later that month. Smollett was essentially given a slap on the wrist consisting of community service and had to forfeit the $10,000 he paid for bail. The Chicago PD, as well as then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, were outraged.
Smollett has been sued by the city of Chicago seeking $130,000 to cover the costs of overtime paid to officers involved in the investigation of the false report. Attorneys for Smollett have argued that the city should not be seeking reimbursement for the policing costs because it already accepted his $10,000 bail “as payment in full with the dismissal of the charges against him.”
The reason behind the prosecution suddenly dropping all charges in such an unequal plea deal remains somewhat of a mystery as the case against Smollett was strong and there was quite a bit of public outrage over the incident.
Judge Michael Toomin blasted Foxx for refusing to fully recuse herself from the case as well as exchanging text messages about the investigation with Smollett’s family.
In August, Judge Toomin appointed former U.S. attorney, Dan K. Webb, to investigate why the charges were dropped.
In dropping the charges, Foxx’s office had claimed Smollett was being treated the same as other defendants who’d faced similar charges in previous cases.
But Webb said prosecutors were unable to provide evidence of any similar, prior cases.
Foxx’s office also couldn’t identify a shred of new evidence that arose between the initial indictment and its dismissal that would have led prosecutors to believe the case against Smollett wasn’t strong, Webb said.
You can read the full indictment here.
The filing of the new charges highlights the problems with the August plea deal with Smollett.
Webb said reviving the charges was “in the interest of justice.”
He noted his office has “reached no conclusions” about whether any officials involved in the case had engaged in wrongdoing and that part of the investigation is ongoing.
Source: Page Six
The Smollett drama certainly isn’t over, and it’s getting even more characters. Smollett’s attorneys have raised the question of political motivation as has Foxx’s re-election campaign.
Foxx’s campaign committee issued a biting statement Tuesday referring to former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to briefly reopen an investigation into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s email shortly before the presidential election in 2016 that Donald Trump would win.
“What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision”…which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” the statement from Friends for Foxx said.
Smollett’s attorney also raised political implications.
The attempt to re-prosecute Smollett “on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice,” she said.
Smollett, 37, has not had any notable film or television roles announced since his departure from the TV series was made public in April 2019. Producers have the option to bring him back during the sixth and final season but have said they have no plans to do so.
Source: Associated Press
Stay tuned, Patriots! Let’s see how this hate hoax that targets Trump supporters is handled.