WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he would have the FBI and the Justice Department review “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett case.
“It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” Trump tweeted.
It is unclear whether federal authorities would have any jurisdiction over the Smollett case.
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.
News of the dropped charges outraged a variety of lawmakers, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel declared. “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?”
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.
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.
The brothers told detectives Smollett hoped to use the incident to raise his profile and salary, Johnson said.
Contributing: Aamer Madhani