Prosecutors dropped all charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett and some officials are not happy with the decision.
Though all charges were dropped against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, the actor’s case is being debated in tense conversations, with his attorneys speaking out on “Good Morning America” and “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes back.
The prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges Tuesday came weeks after Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about being the victim of an alleged attack on Jan. 29.
One of Smollett’s lawyers, Patricia Brown Holmes, said on CNN’s “Tonight With Don Lemon” Tuesday that there was no political influence to drop the charges.
“No one political called that I know of,” she said, adding that the mayor’s and police chief’s anger was “because they didn’t communicate or have communications with the state’s attorneys.”
Brown Holmes reiterated the case should not be tried in the public.
“Jussie deserves justice. Today’s result was fair and just,” she said. “And I say, let him move on with his life.”
Another member of Smollett’s legal team, Tina Glandian, appeared on “Good Morning America” Wednesday reinforcing her client’s innocence. When asked by the morning show’s co-anchor George Stephanopoulos if Smollett’s team plans to sue police, she said they were currently weighing their options.
“For Jussie, what’s really important is he really just wants his career and his life back. Again, he did not ask for any of this. He was a victim of a crime,” said Glandian. “This has completely spiraled out of control and become a political event at this point, and his goal and focus right now is just getting his life back on track.
“He has not even started healing from the initial attack, because he’s been dealing with everything that’s happened since then,” she continued. “We’re shocked at the mayor and the police superintendent doubling down (Tuesday) when the prosecutor, after a dispassioned look at the evidence, realized it just does not hold up and chose to voluntarily dismiss all counts and expunge his record.”
Mayor Emanuel, who called the move “a whitewash of justice,” also talked to Stephanopoulos Wednesday, saying he is eager to get to the truth of the matter.
“The first part, I want to get to the bottom of it: Did he commit this hoax? That is the question that has to first be answered,” Emanuel said on “GMA.” “The second question is: What happened here that allowed the State’s Attorney’s Office – that was in the room with the police department when they decided to actually bring the charges to the grand jury that actually brought the indictments – what made them all of a sudden say, ‘You know what, on second thought, this is enough’?”
Emanuel believes Smollett got special treatment.
“This looks like because he’s an actor, a person of influence, he got treated differently than anybody else,” he told Stephanopoulos.
Joe Magats, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s first deputy assigned the case after Foxx recused herself because she had contact with the Smollett family, told CBS News he sides with police.
“So you believe he’s guilty?” asked correspondent Adriana Diaz, in a segment shown Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”
“Yes,” Magats quickly replied.
“Our priority is violent crimes and the drivers of violence,” he added, explaining why he dropped the charges. “Jussie Smollett is neither one of those.”
Magats also said he feels community service and the $10,000 bond money (10 percent of $100,000) Smollett is forfeiting that will be given to the city is enough to make things right.
Elsewhere on TV, news of the charges being dropped was addressed Tuesday on late night programs like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”
“Man, Bill Barr has been busy,” Colbert cracked, referencing the Attorney General’s decision that the special counsel investigation had not turned up “sufficient” evidence that President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice.
“(Smollett) said it was a hate crime. I believe him, because I hate talking about this story,” the comic added.
Noah dubbed the saga the “weirdest news story in America.”
“I feel like in a week, we’re gonna turn on CNN and find out Smollett is now dating Mike Pence after they met at an R. Kelly concert,” Noah joked.
Smollett told Chicago police that he was attacked in the middle of the night, claiming that two masked men shouted homophobic and racist language, beat him, threw bleach on him, hung a noose around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan.
On Feb. 20, Smollett was charged by police with one Class 4 felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about the alleged attack. Chicago Police Superintendent Johnson said Smollett paid bodybuilder brothers Ola Osundairo and Abel Osundairo $3,500 to stage an attack on him in order to raise his profile.
Smollett turned himself in early Feb. 21, was arrested and briefly jailed, before being released after paying 10 percent of a $100,000 bond. He has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on March 14.
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Aamer Madhani, Maria Puente, Bart Jansen and Kristine Phillips
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