Chicago seeking $130K from Empire’s Jussie Smollett over police investigation

by - 3 min read

Chicago seeking $130K from Empire’s Jussie Smollett over police investigation

by - 3 min read

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he is seeking to have Empire actor Jussie Smollett reimburse Chicago for the costs of the investigation into his reported beating, which police say was staged.

Emanuel also rejected Donald Trump’s call for a federal review, telling the U.S. president to “sit this one out.”

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city government’s legal department, said Thursday afternoon that Chicago is seeking $130,000 US from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation.

Earlier Thursday, Trump wrote that the U.S. Department of Justice will review the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with staging a fake hate crime before prosecutors abruptly dropped the case this week. In an early-morning tweet announcing the review, Trump said the case had embarrassed the nation.

“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous JussieSmollett case in Chicago,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.

“It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”

Trump had initially said reports of the alleged attack on Smollett were ‘horrible.’ (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Smollett, who is black and gay, said two men attacked him at night in January, making homophobic and racist remarks and putting a noose around his neck while shouting support for Trump. Investigators later charged Smollett with paying the two men to pretend to attack him in order to garner public sympathy for himself.

Prosecutors dropped the charges on Tuesday, saying they stood by the accusation but that an agreement by Smollett to forfeit his $10,000 bond US was a just outcome.

The prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges had stunned the city’s police chief, prompted the police union to demand a federal investigation and enraged Emanuel, a Democrat, who called it a “whitewash” that made a fool of the city.

Smollett, 36, says he is innocent and did not stage the attack. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

The FBI has already had some involvement in the case, with agents investigating a threatening letter Smollett said he received prior to the attack, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The initial reports of two Trump supporters attacking a gay, black celebrity drew widespread sympathy for Smollett, particularly from Democrats. That faded quickly after the actor’s arrest, and the case was seized on by some as an example of what Trump likes to deride as “fake news.”

‘Nothing improper was done’

Tina Glandian, one of Smollett’s defence lawyers, told NBC News on Thursday that she was not concerned by the review.

“To my knowledge, nothing improper was done,” she said in the interview.

She acknowledged that Smollett was friendly with the men he accused of attacking him, brothers Abimbola and Olabinj Osundairo, and that he had spoken on the phone to one of them, who had been working as his fitness trainer, about an hour before the incident.

“He had a hard time believing his friend would be behind this,” she said.

Asked about Smollett telling police his attackers appeared to be white, Glandian speculated that the brothers, who are black, may have worn whiteface make-up. 

The brothers have not spoken about the case since police said they confessed to being paid to stage the attack.

Smollett is best known for playing a gay musician on the Fox drama Empire. His lawyers said he hopes to move on with his acting career, but it remains unclear whether he will return to Empire after being written out of the last two episodes of the most recent season.

Smollett, second left, is seen alongside Empire actors Bryshere Gray, left, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in a scene from the music-themed drama. (Chuck Hodes/Fox/Associated Press)

Chicago’s chief prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, has defended her office’s decision as proportionate to what she described as relatively minor charges, saying even if Smollett had been convicted, he would likely not have faced prison time.

Foxx recused herself from the case after acknowledging she had discussed it with a relative of Smollett.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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