March 28 (UPI) — The FBI is reviewing the process that led Chicago prosecutors to drop all charges against actor Jussie Smollett.
Smollett, 36, was accused of staging a phony hate crime against himself and making a false police report in January. Detectives working the case said he paid two brothers to attack him so he could capitalize on sympathy and further his acting career. In a surprise move Tuesday, prosecutors dismissed all 16 felony disorderly conduct charges in exchange for community service and a forfeiture of his $10,000 bond.
President Donald Trump said Thursday the FBI is looking into the case and a law enforcement source told ABC News the same.
“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” Trump tweeted.
Trump previously weighed in on the case when Chicago prosecutors first charged Smollett because the actor said the attackers shouted, “this is MAGA country,” a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel strongly opposed dropping charges against Smollett and had said the FBI should get involved.
“He’s saying he’s innocent and his words aren’t true,” Emanuel told ABC News. “They better get their story straight. This is actually making a fool of us.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called it a “just outcome based on the circumstances” and said such a dismissal isn’t uncommon for this class of felony.
“We believe that the facts were sufficient to charge and try Mr. Smollett for the crimes,” Foxx said. “Based on the facts and the evidence that was presented in the charging decision that was made by this office, this office believed that they could prove him guilty.”
She added that Smollett doesn’t have a history of violence, lacks a criminal record and her office would rather focus on violent criminals.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Foxx discussed turning the case over to the FBI earlier this month.
Foxx recused herself from the case last week after speaking with a family member of Smollett, a decision she said she regretted.
“I’ve never had a victim that turned into a suspect,” she said Wednesday, adding that prosecutors offer the same type of benefits to suspects who don’t have money or fame.
WLS-TV obtained an email sent by Cook County prosecutors that looked for precedents set by other cases they could use to drop charges against Smollett.
“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,” the email reads.
Smollett said he’s been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”