President Trump announced Thursday that the FBI and Justice Department will review the “outrageous” decision to drop charges in the Jussie Smollett case. The president weighed in as controversy mounted in Chicago and across the country over the abrupt dismissal of the charges that the “Empire” actor faked a hate crime, amid widespread speculation over what happened behind the scenes that led to the deal with Cook County prosecutors.
“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” Trump tweeted.
The handling of the case has led to even deeper fractures in the Chicago political and law enforcement establishment. With Mayor Rahm Emanuel fuming over the move to make the case go away, Chicago police came out swinging Wednesday and released the full 61-page investigative report in the alleged hate crime hoax. Chicago police reportedly then became subject of a court order that barred them from releasing further files even though they were widely available online.
The release of the documents came one day after Cook County prosecutors dismissed a 16-count indictment against the actor, saying they had cut a deal with the TV star to perform two days of community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city.
The move made it possible for Smollett’s attorneys to get his criminal case immediately sealed and wiped clean. The dismissal of charges drew a swift backlash from the city’s mayor and police chief and raised questions about why Smollett was not forced to admit what prosecutors had said they could prove in court — that the entire episode was a publicity stunt. In another sign of escalating tensions behind the scenes in the wake of the decision, an internal email from the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — obtained by Fox News — asked assistant state’s attorneys to dig for any examples to bolster Foxx’s claim that the dropped charges weren’t as uncommon or shocking as they seemed.
The email read in part, “We are looking for examples of cases, felony preferable, where we, in (exercising) our discretion, have entered into verbal agreements with defense attorneys to dismiss charges against an offender if certain conditions were met…”
Foxx recused herself from the case in February but defended her office offering Smollett “an alternative prosecution model” in a series of interviews Wednesday.