President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that the FBI and Justice Department will review Illinois prosecutors’ decision to drop all charges against a US television actor accused of fabricating a hate crime.
Calling the Chicago case involving “Empire” star Jussie Smollett “outrageous,” Trump said: “It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”
Prosecutors said they had shelved all 16 felony charges against Smollett in exchange for an agreement that he carries out community service and forfeit a $10,000 bond payment.
But Smollett’s lawyers claimed there was no such agreement, saying the state simply “dismissed the charges,” and that the actor was the victim of a rush to judgment.
The 36-year-old, one of the main cast members on Fox musical drama “Empire” alongside Taraji P. Henson, was accused of masterminding a hoax attack in downtown Chicago to gain publicity and secure a bigger paycheck.
He reported to police that he was attacked in the middle of the night in January by two masked men while walking near his home.
Smollett, who is gay and African American, maintained his innocence in the face of a damning public account from authorities’ of their case against him.
They accused him of sending himself a threatening letter and hiring two acquaintances to stage the attack, complete with homophobic and racial slurs while invoking Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.