Jussie Smollett and the mayor of Chicago are trading public barbs over who’s going to pick up the tab for the police investigation of the alleged attack that the “Empire” actor reported in January.
“The police right now are assembling the cost of what was put into this,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday morning on WGN Radio. Then, he said, the city’s top legal advisor “is going to take action based on those costs, directly to Jussie Smollett.”
Emanuel said he wants to know, through a legal process rather than his own common sense, if a hate crime or a hoax was committed in Chicago.
“He [Smollett] is charged with 16 counts for creating a hoax about a hate crime. He walks out, says I'm innocent. They say no, he's guilty and the police work is good. Now, you can't be both,” the mayor said.
“Given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the word, ‘I’m accountable for the hoax,’” Emanuel said. “I think we’ve got to be clear about this.”
Despite a judge’s order Wednesday barring the Chicago Police Department from talking about the case, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi also told Page Six for a Thursday story that “the city of Chicago will be sending Mr. Smollett a bill” including costs of “an extensive investigation that required a lot of review of cameras.” Outside agencies’ costs would not be included, Guglielmi said.
The actor’s defense team took issue with Emanuel’s comments, saying in a statement to The Times that the actor had “paid enough.”
“It is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie — owe him an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud,” attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said. She had previously said in a statement to The Times that the team was “disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett” after the charges against him were dropped.
“The facts are clear,” Brown Holmes said in the statement. “The assistant state’s attorney appeared in court and dismissed the charges. Mr. Smollett forfeited his bond. The case is closed. No public official has the right to violate Mr. Smollett’s due process rights.”
Charges against Smollett were dropped Tuesday morning in exchange for the actor forfeiting his $10,000 bond and performing 16 hours of community service. A grand jury had indicted him on 16 felony counts related to the incident, in which the actor said he was attacked by two men in masks who knew him from “Empire,” doused him in bleach, put a noose around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country!” a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.
The Chicago police union on Thursday announced a protest to be held Monday against Cook County State’s Atty. Kim Foxx, who said she had recused herself from the case “out of an abundance of caution … to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.”
Also Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that federal investigators would be looking into the Smollett case, which he called “outrageous” and “an embarrassment to our Nation!”