Donald Trump breaks his silence on the Jussie Smollett case
Donald Trump has broken his silence on the "outrageous" Jussie Smollet case, naming it "an embarrassment to the nation".
All charges against the Empire star were dropped this week, but the American president weighed in on the situation on social media, claiming the FBI and DOJ would now be investigating the incident.
The 72-year-old tweeted: "FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation! [sic]" There has been no comment from either the DOJ or the FBI so far on his claims.
Smollett alleged that two men beat him up and put a noose around his neck on 29 January, but in February was charged with filing a false police report and staging a racist and homophobic attack.
On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett, with the office of Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx stating: "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."
However, the decision was controversial, with prosecutors offering little explanation as to why they were dropping the charges and one even confessing that he still believed the Alien: Covenant actor lied to the police about the January incident.
Joe Magats, the first assistant state's attorney in Cook County, Illinois, told CNN affiliate WLS that the decision to drop the charges does not mean the actor was innocent or that any new evidence was presented.
"We believe he did what he was charged with doing," he said. "This was not an exoneration. To say he was exonerated by us or anyone else is not true."
He added that charges are dropped in thousands of cases, but said Smollet's case is getting especially scrutinised because he is famous.
"There are plenty of other cases ... over 5,700 that have gotten some type of alternative or deferred type of prosecution involving a dismissal at the end of the case," he said. "To think that there is some type of infirmity or something that we learned about the case or something that we don't want aired is not true."
Despite this, the decision angered Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who denounced the prosecutors' decision to drop the charges as a "whitewash of justice".
"Even after this whitewash, (there's) still no sense of ownership of what he's done," Emanuel said. "He says that, in fact, that he is the wronged in this case. This is an unbelievable not just whitewash of justice; this is a person now who's been let off scot-free with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions."
He added: "From top to bottom, not only besmirching the name of the city, but then I cannot stress that in a time when you have people bringing a moral equivalency in Virginia between bigots and those fighting bigotry, that you have a person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people that are minorities from violence, to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward, is there no decency in this man?"
"Now you have an individual who took those laws, turned them inside out, upside down, for only one thing: himself. And that, in my view, is an insult and an offence to every one of us who collectively upholds those laws because they reflect who we are as a city and -- because of the hate crime legislation, which is federal -- who we are as a country."
However, Smollett’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, said in a statement their client's record "has been wiped clean".
"He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement," they stated. "Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. The entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion."
The 36-year-old actor's family also released a statement claiming the actor had suffered a "heartbreaking" ordeal.
"Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of," they said. "He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated."