Jussie Smollett Case Unspools in Bizarre Narrative, With Chicago as the Backdrop

Chicago, a city riven by race, class, violence and secrecy, was the ideal setting for the saga surrounding the actor.

Comments: 185

  1. Seems to me we have three choices. A) Justice really is broken in our country. B) Justice counts on most of the US population to be completely ignorant and simply not paying attention. C) There is more to Jussie's story than we know. I'll bet it's C. Let's move on to climate change, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and immigration. Peace.

  2. @PKB I choose D), all of the above, which makes any decision to move on from exposing the reason an affirmation of choices A) and B) and unacceptable. In the words of another newspaper, "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

  3. @PKB ...yeah "more to the story" in the sense is some third party would look bad (*cough Michelle Obama through Tina Tchen cough*) so the whole thing needed a plausible wrap up, pretend consequences (10 hours at Jesse Jackson's "non-profit" group!) and then: delete!

  4. Smollett is privileged. That explains it all. Watch as the Feds also cave. He is bulletproof.

  5. @HRT You may find that the Feds take a different view, especially with this administration and the races involved.

  6. Cook Cty State’s Attorney Kim Fox has to recuse herself during the investigation because she had contact with Smollett’s family who pressed for an FBI investigation. Odds are very good that the sudden dropping of charges, exoneration and sealing the file have something to do with Kim Foxx. And for those keeping count, Kim Foxx was handpicked by Toni Preckwinckle, the current Cook Cty Board President and one of the two mayoral candidates. Toni is the Machine and as dirty as any of the old time politicians. Go Lori Lightfoot.

  7. @DuPage Absolutely a cover up. Foxx was contacted by Smollett family members early on and acted very inappropriately. Based on my more than 50 years working for attorneys I would have fired any associate who did what she did. Her emails are available on line through the Chicago Trib. This is alot - even for Chicago

  8. @DuPage Or maybe it has nothing to do with her and new evidence or lack of evidence caused them to reconsider. You really think Jussie Smollett has this sort of power?

  9. @DuPage ...also, the Smollett-family communications leading to Attorney Foxx's "recusal" were coordinated through Tina Tchen, who was: - special assistant to President Obama, - chief of staff for Mrs. Obama, - headed up the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement (w/ Valerie Jarrett) - oversaw Obama's domestic policy agenda promotion w Hollywood 'events' at WH etc through the taxpayer-subsidized National Endowment for the Arts

  10. I am glad that Smollett's charges were dropped. We will never REALLY know the truth of what happened, but as he says, he has been consistent throughout. Talks of conspiracies about situations like this represents a FAR greater threat than Jussie himself. I just hope that Empire shows his last two episodes of the season if it's not already too late. Regardless, I hope they include him in the next season.

  11. @Jaclyn Why won't we ever know the truth? If, indeed, Smollett was not fabricating the attack, then someone did attack him. He should now be taking the lead in insisting that the perps be hunted down and arrested, no?

  12. @Jaclyn Thus speaks A Fan.

  13. We need more information. Why did the prosecutor drop the charges? When Smollett says he has been truthful, is he saying that he really was attacked?

  14. @Michael Precisely. And if he was attacked, are they going to continue the investigation? Smollett take the lead in insisting that they do so?

  15. It's not normal for charges be dropped like this without securing an admission of guilt. This stinks to high heaven.

  16. @Cody not for someone who isn't a cop, that is.

  17. So the question becomes who has been paid and how much?

  18. @Hi Neighbor, It's not money, it's about whom it's all connected to.

  19. Were it not for the fact that this bizarre turn of events occurred in Chicago, it would be considered outrageous and unbelievable.

  20. Sad day for a great American city.

  21. @Naysayer Are you serious? In a city known for corruption, you really think this is so grave? An actor who "maybe" set up an attack against himself but we really don't know?

  22. Rahm has no ground to stand on. If he wants to see a whitewash of justice, he doesn’t need to look any further than what he and his allies tried to do with Laquan McDonald. That was far more egregious than anything Smollet may have done. Glad our city is losing this out-of-touch mayor who clearly only represents small privileged pockets of the city.

  23. With so many adult issues to deal with in the real world, why are are we even acknowledging this childish ploy for attention?

  24. @Mike Wasted police time from already limited resources, to investigate the "hate crime" and then the hoax, in a City with real issues? That is one good "adult issue". Also Mr. Smollett was basically trying to smear half the country on behalf of his paid actor 'attackers'.

  25. @Mike This "childish ploy for attention" as you call it, cost Chicago a lot of money. Worse, it will now feed not just one false and destructive narrative but two. One side will hold this incident up as one more reason to distrust the police and the authorities in general. The other will hold it up as a reason to distrust anyone who says that racism and homophobia are a genuine threat.

  26. My $.02 - it's not over. Sit back and watch how it unfolds.

  27. I was astonished when the Chicago police went on camera to vilify Mr. Smollett when he was still declaring his innocence and had not been tried in a court of law. When this announcement came out I simply assumed the evidence did not support their case and they had decided to move on to real issues.

  28. @KJ Why would you have done that? Police always vilify those they investigate and arrest. This crime was particularly heinous and at a very vulnerable time for Chicago. The prosecutor says it was a first time offender deal and that Mr Smollet was guilty and there was evidence enough to have won in court. What struck me was that there were 16 felonies charged and this deal was made with no requirement that Mr Smollet admit guilt or any kind of act of contrition. In fact Mr Smollet went right out and claimed innocence to the press! There is a lot here that should get your attention. This prosecutor is looking very shady right now. My mind went right to bribe. Keep your eye out in the next year or two he will leave office for a change of career to become a writer or producer out west and he'll end up with a development deal. Well that's my read I can't imagine he's dumb enough to take cash or anything directly connectable to this case.

  29. @KJdont assume that all...if it was all above aboard , it wouldnt be sealed..the truth will come out

  30. @KJ Maybe it was because they literally had text messages of Smollett setting it up with the 'attackers' (hey, my flight was delayed...lets still meet at the spot by the surveillance camera, etc), and literally had footage of the 'attackers' buying the rope/bleach, and the *receipts* of Smollett paying the 'attackers' with a check!! So yeah, the Police were confident. And mad - about all the wasted police time in investigating the "hate crime", treated like unpaid extras in his staged drama, and then investigating the hoax.

  31. Interesting reporting here. Smollett is quoted saying he's been "truthful and consistent," yet oddly, the Times neglects to provide a fact check, a the media routinely does in other prominent cases.

  32. If Smollett has been exonerated, then the courts and Smollett himself are indicating that he was, indeed, attacked. Now, Smollett--the purported victim--and the Police Department ought to be redoubling their search for the attackers in order to prosecute them, no? Otherwise, it's all about double-talk and network money.

  33. @perry I believe the same team that is looking for Smollet’s real attackers is also the same team who investigated the real murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.

  34. Before leaping to outrage and presumptions of some manner of corruption, are we sure the prosecutor did not have a sound basis for believing that the charges could not be proven by a reasonable doubt? The former head of the World Bank, Strauss-Kahn, was charged with raping a hotel maid, and then the charges were dropped because she was caught on tape discussing the money to be made from the scandal with an incarcerated associate of hers. Maybe the prosecutors decided that the brothers were not credible witnesses -- that Smollett could pivot to the defense that, "OK, maybe they did do it, but I didn't put them up to it." Or maybe he has some mental defect defense, and the $10,000 fine and community service he agreed to are in line with the penalty in comparable cases that no one hears about (e.g., someone makes something up, but they have PTSD, or some other hardship story, and the prosecutors don't throw the book at them because the prosecutors are busy with murderers and rapists). Too many people in this country are caged. No other "civilized" country incarcerates humans at the rate that we do in America. Why isn't $10,000, community service, and the loss of his job, enough of a punishment? If some damaged soul made up a story for attention, or whatever, I wouldn't necessarily say they have to be locked up in a prison, where the damage to them will be magnified.

  35. @Ann I think the point is not that he necessarily needed to go to jail if guilty. But given the nature of the claims made by Smollett and the CPD, this case did need to go to court.

  36. What was the Obama's and Jackson's level of involvement in the change of heart by the prosecutor? They have all been vaguely mentioned but with little follow up.

  37. Jussie Smollet may not be off the hook yet. Double jeopardy isn’t a factor here. Jeopardy "attaches" when the jury is empanelled, the first witness is sworn, or a plea is accepted. The case was dismissed nolle pros. The entry of a nolle prosequi is not an acquittal. Since the principle of double jeopardy does not apply, the defendant may later be indicted on the same charge again. This means that Smollet can still be brought up on charges in Chicago, as well as any federal charges that might apply.

  38. If Mr. Smollett was indeed attacked then he should be fighting for his day in court. Where is his outrage? Now he’s happy to just let it go? This whole thing smells bad. I can understand why the Mayor and Chief of Police are so upset. Where’s the truth? Where’s the justice?

  39. Jussie Smollett, meet Donald Trump. He too thinks he has been "vindicated" and "exonerated." Just goes to show that if you've got clout, to use a good old Chicago word that I learned shortly after I first learned to speak, you can get away with anything.

  40. Justice requires the law be applied equally to all citizens regardless of status and wealth; but mercy by its very nature is undeserved and unmerited. Mercy looks at the individual’s circumstances. Rape in prisons is all too common — especially for openly gay males. I don’t know “why” the numerous felony charges were dropped but I do applaud the courage of any prosecutor willing to show mercy to young men first time offenders of nonviolent crimes. Mercy has been denied too far many young men in prison where alternatives would have better served the rehabilitation of the nonviolent offender — and better served our communities. Too many young men’s lives (teens through 30’s) have been destroyed by the violence present in our jails and prisons, Yes, he should apologize and make amends for what he did — but the violence young prisoners contend with —rape and possibly death — that is not justice to me — it’s revenge.

  41. The victim in this case is the notion that justice is blind. Cynicism is growing while faith in our system of justice is declining. We have been on the slippery slope for a long time. If we allow this loss of faith to continue, unabated, the ultimate result will be anarchy.

  42. Jussie Smollett is just as innocent as Donald Trump. Joe Magats is just as competent a lawyer as William Barr. That just about explains the reality of justice in America.

  43. @TDurk Mueller is the liberal savior who needs to be protected against conservative interference...until he decides against the liberal story.

  44. The case was sealed and no one's talking. Right. If he was innocent and everything above board, everything would be put on the table and we'd all know the whole story. Something stinks of course. The truth always wins out in the end. It ain't over. The problem is we don't know if it will come out this lifetime or another one. Who can explain it.

  45. This series of events is troubling and mysterious, especially to those of us not living in Chicago. I had hoped for some deeper background on this story from this piece. Aside from a novelist's speculation about "the same old same old" in Chicago politics there was none to be found. What is the political environment underlying the public events? What is the political party of the State's Attorney? Is there any history of rivalry or animus between him and the mayor? Is there any real possibility of this being a corrupt decision or is it likely a move to curry political favor for an upcoming election? Clearly I could probably learn most of the answers by searching the public record online, but why then do I subscribe to the Times?

  46. Cook County clerk’s office tells @ABC they were shocked that no written motions were filed with the court in connection with the surprising dismissal in the Smollett case. On top of that, the case has been wiped off their database as if it never existed.

  47. I'm originally a Brit whose father was a cop for 30 years. When something of this nature occurs across the pond (i.e. the crown Prosecution Service drop charges), the strongest reaction generally heard/permitted from the Police - often through gritted teeth - is a statement along the lines of 'we are NOT pursuing other suspects in this case'.... The fact that Superintendent Johnson was so vociferous tells a story, and if the evidence was indeed insufficient, why seal it? A very strange and very disheartening sequence of events. That said, like many other contributors on this thread, I agree we should focus on bigger picture matters

  48. @DL Inciting racial hatred in this climate of ner' do well race-baited politics is a very serious issue. Can the record be unsealed on appeal?

  49. The only explanation for this truly bizarre story is follow the money or find out whether the prosecutor fell in love with Smollett. Sixteen counts may have been too many for filing a false police report and wasting days and weeks of police time investigating a hate crime that didn't happen, but letting him walk seems way too lenient.

  50. An article in today's print edition inferred the F.B.I. may still be investigating the threatening letter sent to the Empire set. Police have stated Smollett sent the letter to himself. Depending on the F.B.I.'s investigation, perhaps it is possible federal charges - mail fraud or similar - could yet be brought against Smollett.

  51. Why is this getting so much publicity? He is a not so well known actor to the vast majority of Americans- and if you believe everything the police had to say he may have some mental issues and was craving attention. He needs help, not 24/7 news coverage

  52. @Terry. Its because it illustrates, yet again, how people with connections, fame and money have a different set of rules applied to them and are afforded outcomes that you or I would not experience.

  53. Here's what I think - connections may have played a part in getting higher ups to think this through and realizing the ensuing farce and media spectacle not worth the drama and energy drain from understaffed govt. agencies with more important cases to handle. The city got $10,000. I dont believe a word Jussie says. But take out the celebrity factor what's the prosecutorial norm for a first time offender of minor crimes that mostly hurt himself with a record of community service and family support. This was no win for prosecutors who cut their losses so they could focus on real crimes. As for the mayor he's just mad nobody's talking about him. Nor does the one who hid the shooting video for a year for the sake of his reelection and is currently opposed by 64% of Chicago voters have any credibility to stand on. Why wasn't he prosecuted for obstruction of justice?

  54. may l ask to NYT please tell us what is the difference between intent bury Mueller's report ,there for Mr.Trump looks like did not any thing wrong, and Mr.Smollett also free to go home because he said he is innocent, we do not need SNL we have a very good comedy going on with our justice system, but if you or me do not pay our parking ticket we will go to the jail

  55. Maybe the SPLC can assist Mr. Smollett in finding his assailants. This sounds like an ideal case for them.

  56. There's one pertinent detail missing from this story: the $10,000 bail fee will not be returned to Smollet - a "just outcome" according to the prosecutor. If a man is innocent, doesn't he fight to 100% clear his name instead of forfeiting $10,000? It's worth pointing out that uber celeb gossip raconteur Enty primed the pump for this outcome nearly a month ago. His/her sources are impeccable: https://www.crazydaysandnights.net/2019/02/blind-item-3_28.html

  57. My opinion, the Police Superintendent screwed up. You should never claim that a person is guilty before the conclusion of a case. Why did he do it? Was he concerned about maintaining calm in Chicago? Smollett's lawyers said (paraphrasing)... "the police tried Smollett in the media." That is why the prosecutor threw in the towel. Does anyone believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty?? Just my opinion. Don't hate.

  58. @Stanley Police by definition determine if they believe someone is guilty by arresting them and referring to prosecutor. And Smollett if you look at information was guilty, just not convicted. Does OJ and Tawana Brawley still confuse you?

  59. @Stanley Everyone, including the state's atty, believes him to be guilty.

  60. Cook County prosecutors stated the reasons for dropping the charges against Smollett. They are: “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.” Community service + $10,000. A plea bargain.

  61. @Chicago - It is not a plea bargain. A plea bargain is heard before a judge, who can either accept or reject the plea bargain. The charges were dropped by the prosecution. There is no reporting of the judge hearing and agreeing to any plea bargain.

  62. @Chicago Plea bargains happen all the time. But what bothers me is sealing the case. Why the secrecy?

  63. @Chicago a plea bargain is a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence. I'm pretty sure there was no guilty plea, even though that may not be your truth

  64. This decision needs s federal corruption probe!

  65. It’s surprising that Smollett didn’t demand that the state prosecute the two individuals who confessed to attacking him.

  66. If there ever was a real case of "Obstruction of Justice" this most certainly has to be it.

  67. If Smollett is not guilty, then there are two violent hate crime offenders on the loose in Chicago. Case not closed!

  68. Chicago and Cook County have been corrupt for so long no one can remember when they were not. The police will now police even less. When you have police not policing you have chaos. Cook County citizens (and citizens of the state of Illinois) keep electing Democrats so they get what they voted for. With all of the gun control in the state they send a letter to someone who has a gun illegally (Aurora mass shooter) and of course he does not surrender the gun and subsequently kills five people. The honest people in the state should just move--there is no cleaning up Chicago and Illinois. Time for an FBI investigation into the Cook County Prosecutor to determine whether her decision was influenced by bribery or extortion. The mayor and police are right--this is a miscarriage of justice.

  69. Seems to me feelings of disgust permitting Mr Smollett's walking, mirrors unease when cops, and others, are acquitted when video - and common sense - clearly shows they are in the wrong.

  70. I believe the word Chicago is synonymous with corruption.

  71. When I first heard of the alleged attack, I was horrified. Once I looked up where it allegedly happened, it didn't smell right. Streeterville is an neighborhood popular with tourists (due to proximity to Navy Pier and the shops lining Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile) and affluent residents. (Average household income: $159,284.90) Moreover, this is not an area where one finds MAGA-hat-wearing folk, looking to attack people of color. Quite the contrary... It's not unusual to hear of gang-related attacks - either on assumed rivals or unsuspecting tourists - but these rarely occur on frigid winter evenings. My guess? Someone was bought off.

  72. Very wrong decisions for some bizarre reason. He’s a criminal. Why not a plea?

  73. Old time Chicago style. The fix was in! Outraged mayor and police speaks volumes.

  74. That's it? That was a little Cliffs Note article. Strange.

  75. @Jake Cashill Yes, you got that very right indeed: a remark about the bizarreness, which cannot be denied, on the route to never talking about it again. There should be far more concerned enquiry by the NYTs.

  76. I see corruption and graft are still working as normal in Cook County. The names may change, but the story is always the same. Kudos to the head of police for doing his part to push this through. Shame about the prosecutors though.

  77. As Jeff Bezos says succinctly, "can we roll this log over and see what crawls out" This stinks to high heaven!

  78. Profoundly depressing and distressing. Not looking for jail time or punishment. Acknowledgement and confession is the least the public can expect. I understand the feelings of the mayor and police. Does not pass the smell test. The arrogance of Smollett is intolerable.

  79. If Chicago has declined to prosecute it's up to the Federal government to bring charges and punish this unrepentant liar.

  80. Smollett shames his own mother, his family, he brings everyone into his self-debasement. How could a young man who had it all, money, looks, opportunity, a supportive family, how is he so venal and self-centered that he cavalierly threw all that away? It beggars belief but...there it is. And the people of City of Chicago are taking all this personally.

  81. @Jake News that’s what we do, we take it personally. For my money that’s what makes Chicago a great place.

  82. Almost got to tip your hat to Smollet's audacity. It wasn't enough to receive the get out of jail free card. He also managed to play the victim card on his way out of court. Should silence those who doubted his acting chops.

  83. @G in Cali, yes, he nailed it. This is way short of a "plea" deal--he never was charged, he simply was let off. So now he gets to go back in time and once again play the victim, a role he excels at. He claims he's totally innocent, but it's kind of late in the game to once again try to claim he was assaulted by two guys who we now know were in his employ. And how about those two Nigerian brothers? I'd love to see them go on some talk show and explain what really happened. Unless, of course, they were bought off also.

  84. As if we need more proof that something is woefully wrong with our justice system: "The court file on his case was sealed immediately." An open court system is fundamental to democracy. The public needs to see that justice was done. This overrides Mr Smollett's interest in privacy. Unless disclosure of the proceedings is a threat to national security, which of course is not true, the court records should be open to the public. But hey, look what's going on in Washington and the apparent intent to bury Mueller's report. By comparison, this is small stuff, even if part of the country's creeping decay of fundamental values of an open society.

  85. When I was kid, I used to think it was a great thing to make a record or be on television or in the movies. Now I know that everyone can do these things and that everyone does.

  86. Money and influence might buy his freedom, but it can’t buy back his decimated reputation. He will forever be known as ‘that guy who.....’

  87. In my opinion, non violent crimes like lying should not lead to jail time. We are better off fining them according to what they are able to afford to pay and making them do community service. We can save taxpayers money as well. We need less people in our jails I see everyone up in arms how Smollet is able to escape jail time. I don’t see most people angry when war on drugs/crack vs powdered cocaine policy (effectively meant meant to punish blacks) and, zero tolerance policies have effectively destroyed countless black families. We are cribbing about one black guy escaping the justice.

  88. @Amit GoelThis article is about "one black guy escaping justice". If you want to discuss drug sentencing disparities comment on another article.

  89. @Amit Goel So if all the facts of the case were the same except that it was a white woman saying she was attacked by black men yelling slurs would you still advocate she be let off as well? Chances are she would still be prosecuted for hate crimes.

  90. @Amit Goel Economy of words: what aboutism

  91. From someone who actually faced, fought and lived through a violent homophobic attack, I think Mr. Smollet would be wise to offer an apology to all of us who actually live with the truth and the pain of being physically and verbally abused by homophobic attackers and left for dead. It is not a joke, or a scene in television drama or a publicity stunt that we lived through..it's painful reality. What you carried off, Mr. Smollet, is actually worse than what a bully does. You are a coward to take the easy way out! But, don't despair, Karma will deal with you as it always will in the time that it takes for real learning and growth to take place.

  92. And, sadly, this will make some investigators more likely to reject and therefore fail to investigate adequately, legitimate complaints of attacks on homosexuals. I hope he is black balled by the entertainment industry.

  93. As Rahm said, Jussie's hoax embarrassed Chicago. I wish he hadn't stopped short of saying that the failure to prosecute the case embarrassed us beyond measure. If the case was dropped because of the prosecutor, her associates, or the police, SHAME ON YOU. If not, we need a concrete and detailed explanation.

  94. As the saying goes, the fix was in. Reminds me of Trump and his no collusion finding. Of course there was collusion - and conspiracy and obstruction. What were Jr. and Jared doing in Trump Tower with Russkis - playing checkers? Come on. What gives with Mueller and his crew? Not quite the hero we thought he was I guess. More like a Republican brother in arms.

  95. I believe Mayor Emanuel when he says it's not on the level. He knows about things "not on the level".

  96. Chicago taxpayers, me and many like me, have had enough. We are sick and tired of our “government” thieves. We are sick of all of it - the play-to-play politics; the no-bid or over-priced shoddy public works contracts; the wife-beating, gang-banging aldermen; the endless violence; the disaffected, do-nothing judges; the pandering Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; the political hack running for mayor while collecting her county salary at what is obviously a do-nothing job (strange, I couldn’t do my job while full-time searching for another!) Increasingly, it seems higher political office in Illinois is a prerequisite for a prison term. Mr. Smollet, lied, lied and kept on lying. He didn’t deserve to go to jail (that’d be a waste of taxpayer dollars) but he surely deserves a conviction. That this sadsack nobody walked from this stunt surprises no one. That’s what we can expect from our so-called “leaders.” We, THE PEOPLE, of Chicago, are so much better than this clown and his circus. We deserve so much better than these bums.

  97. I would love to now how he got away with it. It'll serve as a future blue print to get out of jail without any consequences.

  98. I believe we will hear more about this. It’s disturbing and sad. I feel for the people who worked hard on finding and revealing the truth which they did. He’s a sad sack little boy who perhaps can find humility unless his grandiose pathology is untreatable. Sadly, we are more likely to see him concoct new lies even in the face of facts and evidence. In addition he may run into problems arising from the failure of his scam. More will be revealed.

  99. @I Heart Only if you are rich and famous.

  100. “He added a hasty and bewildering postscript, saying that the actor — though officially cleared — had not been exonerated of wrongdoing” Sorry, in Trump’s America this is a full exoneration.

  101. It’s a scam. From hard evidence, co conspirators, texts and his fake letter with many charges to a walk. Yup one person said “the fix was in”. Where da money? Investigate the egregious injustice. He’s a low level rapper with a very weak tv show so what’s his next move since no one will deal with him. There’s no other side to the story which seemed sketchy from the first report. Yet all those Chicago investigators worked hard to find the evidence and they did.

  102. Forget it Jake, its Chicago.

  103. Nice job Chicago. You look like fools, and you just handed the Trump team more fodder for their toxic narrative about your leadership. Congratulations!

  104. Are Smollett and his DA buddy now searching for the attackers :)

  105. I don't suspect a payoff occurred, rather the prosecutor developed a case of "cold feet" with the realization this was going to turn into a media circus lasting weeks. So the choice was clear, subject myself (and my office) to an level of international media attention or make the case go away. As it now will, in a matter of hours, given the publics short attention span. And now, back to Washington, Trump and the outrage of the Democratic party.

  106. Oh I doubt this case is going away. In fact it may just be beginning.

  107. @David John We can only hope. I just don't believe the media, who controls all these stories, will dwell on this long enough for it to gain traction.

  108. No matter how this case washes out, Smollett is damaged goods. The "Empire" will strike back and can him for good from the show. And the good people of Chicago will turn their backs on him for making a shambles of the hard work their police department put in to investigate the dangerous hoax he perpetrated on the city. And he should save his money, for like Kevin Spacey, Jussie won't work another day in Hollywood.

  109. Now that charges are dropped I’ll bet he’s back on Empire if it’s renewed. The audience will be bigger than ever to see the infamous Smollett. He’s got it all worked out. Lawsuits against everyone as collateral, the black-lash that whites are outraged in this case but not those involving police misconduct will win the day. That’s how one really works the system. I think it’s awful what’s done by many bad apple cops but thus guy doesn’t make up for that. It’s the guilty playing the race card in the right way that sets them free.

  110. I agree that the disposition of the Smollett case is shady, but I also think that the CPD & mayor have blown this case up to an astonishing level, charging Smollett with more felonies and possible sentence time than Manafort got for bank & tax fraud & conspiracy against the US. To see the CPD & the mayor express such passionate outrage at how this case was handled, calling it a black eye on Chicago's criminal justice system, triggers a gigantic eye roll. Given the millions in settlements paid to families of black men who were killed unjustly by local police, I doubt that Smollett's attack hoax rivals that of the many lethal misdeeds of the CPD. But you didn't hear the mayor rage against the injustice of Laquan McDonald's killing, or witness Chief Johnson rushing to GMA to brief the nation on the investigation and bemoan the incident's grave insult to both the city & civil rights history. If I'm going to get outraged about the failings of Chgo's criminal justice system, I'll choose to protest the predictable acquittals of police who kill people or secret them away in rights-averse black sites.

  111. @macktan You misunderstand what the passion is about. It’s a humiliation of those who worked on the case. In Chicago, the work that those people did was taken seriously. In fact, Jussie was able to use your viewpoint to pull a fast one on Chicago, and is getting away with it.

  112. @Rose Anne. Please. Do you know how many people, banks and corporations pull a fast one & get away with it? Am I going to wail about Jussie Smollett, whose scam was investigated and narrated to the world in 2 minutes, when 5 years later, the NYPD is still investigating the death of Eric Garner & whether the cop who put him in an illegal chokehold did anything wrong? I recall Kellyanne Conway stating amidst the outrage over Paul Manafort's light sentence that the judge simply looked at the cases of similar crimes & imposed a like sentence. Now THAT is getting away with something! Sure, Smollett deserved time, but not life behind bars. As they say, give me a break.

  113. 1. Imagine the punishment had this been an actual hate crime as described. 2. What of the video, showing the brothers, buying the items? 3. What of the check paid to them by Smollet? 4. The Grand Jury indictment? 5. Among the rank and file CPD detectives and officers... why burn the midnight oil seeking justice - after being played for fools ? 6. If the fix is in and he's guilty but gets to walk, why not at the very least obtain a conviction after guilty plea? $350,000 fine to offset costs to Chicago? Everyone loses.

  114. After hearing the latest updates from Chicago, that the case has gotten WORSE! The mayor and police are abhorred by the decision to drop charges, meaning that there was no pullback from them and therefore the evidence we all saw clearly was not disputed. Additionally, the prosecutor says that they don't see Smollett as a "threat" when in fact law enforcement was diverted at great time and expense in collecting evidence in this case WHICH LEAD TO SMOLLETT BEING ARRESTED. I cannot buy the line that it's fame and money that got him off - really, the case was just too high profile for that. Now I'm not saying "lock him up and throw away the key" - after all, no one was killed BUT to decide that a small fine and some community service is proper recompense for this heinous man's actions is outrageous. Adding insult to injury, we have to endure YET AGAIN hearing his excuses and professions of innocence. How disgusting is THAT!

  115. How about We the People boycott Mr. Smollett and any enterprise that he becomes associated with in the future?

  116. Money doesn't discriminate, it is only helping further divide a city and a country farther and farther apart.

  117. What I find even more bizarre than the Jussie Smollett story is the level of attention "serious media" lavishes on the story. It might be time for "serious media" to focus on issues that actually affect the country, like Trump's DOJ suing to end Affordable Care Act, or how the Republican-controlled Senate are voting down any legislative proposal to address climate change.

  118. A word to the vile Ms. Fox elected prosecutor: this is NOT an “every day case”! Cases do NOT reach at the heart of the NATIONAL DEBATE on race and justice every day! She has to GO!!

  119. He's an Actor--Not the President------More people upset about Smollett going free than Trump?

  120. One can be upset by both— they’re not mutually exclusive

  121. Here is what might have happened: A conference call with Tchen, Emanuel, and Eddie Johnson. Tchen says she plans to contact the prosecutor and say drop the charges and seal the file. Emanuel and Johnson volunteer to be outraged. Done.

  122. People are confused by this because they are assuming that the police had all their ducks in a row before they went to reporters and convicted Smollett in the press. It's obvious that the prosecutors realized there are big holes in the case - and/or legal exposure for the city if they were to move forward. And the sealing of the case shows that whatever it is that went down (for example, illegal searching of Mr. Smollett's personal property without a proper warrant) made the smart play to come to an agreement with him.

  123. Then why didn’t they say that?

  124. So - I wonder who will play Smollett in the sure-to-be-released Netflix docudrama about all this? Yes, that was an attempt at humor.

  125. Let's be very clear about this: faking a hate crime IS a hate crime. Whatever Smollett's motivations, he traded on our shameful history. He falsely accused people of attacking him, linking it to their political affiliation. His crime was not merely filing a false police report. Smollett was the ringleader of a criminal conspiracy. He should have been charged on that count and received a further hate crime enhancement. I hold out little hope that the US Attorney will right the wrong here, but in a just world, Smollett would do considerable time merely for sending a white powder through the mail. Terroristic threats are no joke.

  126. @herrbrahms Thank your lucky stars you live in Seattle, where this kind of nonsense can't go on because they don't do business in backrooms like they do in Illinois and get away with it. Corruption flourishes in dark rooms, and there are far too many in the land of Lincoln.

  127. This undermines the credibility of the justice system. Always felt that Democrats stood for something honorable when they rail against wall street and too much incarceration, now you realize if they can get away with demeaning about 50% of the MAGA loving country their outrage is pathetically absent. If they find this acceptable and keep voting for that prosecutor then they should not be outraged by people getting away with killing unarmed individuals under the guise of Stand your Ground or police being defensive. They are just playing the system like anyone is entitled to.

  128. Everyone here seemed outraged by this, but I am not. Almost on a daily basis, hard core criminals, as well as police who kill innocent people are let off the hook. Yes, Smollett was charged with something he has vehemently denied, and was not proven guilty. My guess is that someone started this in an effort to destroy him, for some unknown reason. Compared to the murderers who wear uniforms and badges and get off scot free, this is insignificant. And, if he truly is innocent, would anyone really want to see him thrown in jail and have his life destroyed, all because of an unproven accusation?

  129. I didn't read the article because I am so sick and tired of the publicity this guy is getting. As some entertainer said: "Any publicity is good publicity even if it's bad"

  130. Is some news organization going to move the court to unseal the court file in this case?

  131. The rich and well-connected don’t commit crimes. They simply “have misunderstandings” or “make mistakes.”

  132. Reminds me of the courtroom scene in the musical,'Chicago' where defense attorney Richard Gere tap danced around the jury. Literally!

  133. I hate to see these things happen in my city. What he did was messed up. I guess this is how privilege feels like Pun aside, one thing that bothers me though was where was this outrage from our Mayor and police chief when the black kid was shot 16 times and it took a court order to release the video of the shooting. What ever suits you, I guess. All said, it's a shame on jussie.

  134. "Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition is based in Chicago, backed Mr. Smollett’s account." Possibly the most bizzare statement about the entire funny-weird case. Especially when we're told tha Jackson's support was established by a shared prayer session. But at least now we know why the case was dropped. What Chicago prosecutor would possibly want to take on Jesse Jackson and the Holy Ghost?

  135. @DLS Why would the Holy Ghost have any time for Jesse Jackson?

  136. Chicago was corrupt long before Al Capone moved there from NYC. It would take more than a dumb hoax to embarrass the city, if it can be embarrassed at all. Either some significant evidence that the police "overlooked" was found or the fix was in. Please spare us the "poor little Chicago" cries.

  137. how white-collar criminal defense attorneys market themselves in manhattan: "we have a crackerjack team of former u.s. supreme court clerks . . ." how white-collar criminal defense attorneys market themselves in chicago: "i know a guy who knows a guy . . ."

  138. One of smellett’s rich relatives compelled Ms. Foxx to put in a few good words for him according to the Chicago Tribune. This is a case of double standards and rich black privilege.

  139. @Stan Gomez rich privilege doesn't know race. If you're rich, you get special treatment. Look at at who makes up the majority of our prison population. It's not the rich people. It's the poor people who don't have the money for a good attorney. A poor person (doesn't matter the race) & a rich person could be charged with the same exact crime & the poor person's sentence will include jail time while the rich person will either get all charges dismissed, be sentenced to "community service" or walk out with a ACoD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal) & have the case dismissed 6 months later because he stayed out of trouble. I'm using the term "he" but it could also be "she".

  140. @Stan Gomez "rich black privilege" Would that be the rich black privilege Bill Cosby is "enjoying" in his prison cell?

  141. Chicago, like New York, has been so corrupt for so long that it makes the old Soviet Union with its communist party look enlightened. So the County prosecutor--just happens be a a friend of the chief of staff of Ms. Obama--is friendly with Senator Harris, not to mention Don Lemon, and probably six other shady types and Ms. Foxx allows the charges to be dropped. After all, Mr. Smollett is above all this and a victim. Too bad for Jussie that the CPD released all the files and now we can gauge the depth of the corruption. Disgusting!

  142. I'm waiting for the court file to be revealed. I think someone copied it and they are waiting for the right price.

  143. @J. G. Smith Smollett is thinking about suing Chicago P.D. I'm not a person who bets, but I would say that the odds of those sealed records suddenly appearing are very good.

  144. Mark Twain was both insightful and accurate when he said: "If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything you say." If Smollett continues to let his fabrications and denials multiply, he'll be spending the rest of life trying to remember everything he said about the hoax he invented. He's now got a lot of stuff to remember. That alone is a kind of self-inflicted punishment.

  145. But there is no self inflicted punishment. In private he can gloat that he got away with it. In public, he will gloat that charges were dropped and justice was done. All the lies are irrelevant. Everyone knows his name. The show will continue.

  146. Okay, I'm naive and out of my depth here. But by now we gay people can't stand Smollett. Black folks can't stand Smollett. White people can't stand Smollett. Liberals and conservatives, united at last. So given that Smollett inspires across-the-board enmity by virtually the entire Chicago electorate, why does a local elected official bail *him* out at such obvious cost to her own career? What payoff is more compelling to her than torpedoing her own re-election? Like I say, out-of-towner here.

  147. You inaccurately state that Jussie Smollett was "cleared" of the criminal charges against him. The criminal charges against him were dropped but that is not the same as his having been "cleared" of criminal charges. Being "cleared" of criminal charges is one of several reasons why criminal charges may be dropped. The others could be for example police misconduct, unavailable witness, illegal search and seizure, failure to read a defendant his rights etc. We don't know why the criminal charges against Mr. Smollett were dropped. So are we clear?

  148. So if Smollett was telling the truth this whole time, what of his "attackers"? They "go free?" Makes absolutely no sense.

  149. This decision was done by the Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office. Although she recused herself because of 'contact' with the Smollett family, you can already figure out what happened. She is up for re-election next year, and people here in Chicago are angry. She's in deep do do and this won't be going away anytime soon. I also wouldn't be surprised to see this impact the Chicago mayoral race next week. Kim Foxx was the previous chief of staff to Toni Preckwinkle, who is in a run-off election with Lori Lightfoot. Local media reported tonight that if voters are angry enough about what happened, they may take it out on Preckwinkle. Wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Lightfoot win by a landslide.

  150. I have been a prosecutor and a defense attorney for over forty years, and have practiced in over 20 jurisdictions, including Chicago. What strikes me as strange here is not that a non-violent first offense with no citizen victim gets disposed of with great leniency--that happens to greater or lesser degrees in most prosecutors' offices. What is strange here is that the initial charging decision was extremely aggressive, and the ultimate disposition was a complete about-face-- without explanation. It is also unusual to give away a case where the city incurred significant costs in investigating the charges, as was obviously the case here. Finally, to resolve the case without a clear admission of wrong-doing by the defendant is not common, as it allows a clearly culpable defendant to make false assertions of factual innocence, challenging the legitimacy of the police investigation. The way this case was handled by the prosecutor's office was a betrayal of the police and apparently did not teach the defendant anything.

  151. @jrd--it was a hate crime

  152. @jrd Well, it taught him how to buy his way out of trouble apparently...

  153. @bored critic Correction: Fake crime.

  154. The difference between these 'competing versions' is that the police have competently laid out in detail the evidence for what happened. Smollet's blanket denials are just that, blanket denials. He offers no explanation of any kind for why the accusations are wrong. It is certainly the City's prerogative if it wanted to accept a deal or plea bargain and be rid of the matter, but such a deal has to be accompanied by an admission of guilty by Smollet, which did not occur.

  155. It's a mystery to me, and I know the courts. I thought that 16 charges seemed excessive, but to dismiss them all? The DA should have been prepared to defend himself better. The public is now scratching its head.

  156. I expect every card carrying liberal dem to respond to this case with the same outrage, indignance, vehemence and voluminous demands for continued investigation until such time as there is enough evidence to prosecute and obtain a conviction to put this person espousing such a hateful racist homophobic divisiveness away for a long time. Kimd.of like your reaction to trumps exoneration

  157. Mr Smollett seems to have found some good lawyers.

  158. @John Murray** and corrupt prosecutors ...

  159. @Doctor Woo Good lawyers do deals with prosecutors. Mr Smollett’s fine for his offense was $10,000. His play-acting was not appreciated by the police. I think he got off light. Good luck to him anyway.

  160. You mean rich, famous, and/or well connected black people use their wealth and privilege to get away with crimes? I'm shocked! Shocked! Our justice system has even more class bias than race bias. The ability to pay legal fees and post bail can make a big difference. Having family connections can make a big difference. And having enough name recognition to keep the press interested for more than a few news cycles makes a big difference. If Smollett was determined to take this to trial, his legal team could consume a significant portion of the district attorneys budget for the year. The vast majority of convictions in this country are secured by plea bargains. Even if you can afford a lawyer, the cost to negotiate a plea bargain is not cheap, but it's much cheaper than going to trail.

  161. This was not a plea deal. The charges were dropped, not cleared, just dropped. How was much taxpayer money was wasted? A deal should have been made that he write a big check to a legal defense fund for victims of real hate crimes.

  162. Jussie Smollett's verdict is a breath of fresh air to those of us opposed to mass incarceration and the viciousness that permeates criminal justice in this country. Smollett's egotistical self-dramatization of virtuous ideas is exposed and his reputation is shattered. His livlihood threatened. The punishment fits the crime. I wish I could believe that this is generally true.

  163. @natriley I wish there was a way to use "laughing" emojis. This has got to be the funniest post here

  164. @natriley His livelihood threatened? Hilarious ha ha! Smollett will now be able to live handsomely off his name recognition value for the rest of his life.

  165. Straight to jail!!

  166. From the moment this story broke I along with probably half the country knew something was "wrong" with it. When Mr. Smollett's story unraveled several days/weeks later it's very likely no one was that surprised Then the Chicago PD being the Chicago PD decides to "make an example" out of Mr. Smollett and works to have him charged with 16 felonies. That was an absolute ridiculous "over charge" for what the crime was He filed a "false police report" Yes I know it's serious and every cop in Chicago had to put the donuts down and start investigating which meant that every other crime investigation had to be put on hold for the three weeks it took them to figure out that Mr. Smollett had filed a false police report. 16 Felonies? - Please It should have been a one or two count misdemeanor and a fine and an apology. Then Chicago being Chicago Mr. Smollett has some "connections" and started to use them Facing 16 Counts, all of them Felony's he got a "sweetheart" deal. That he should have never been charged that harshly is of course besides the point. If you wrote this as a screenplay people would say it's just too unbelievable even for Hollywood.. For Chicago - It's just business as usual! Don't all those involved have anything better they could be doing?

  167. It's hard for me to watch Ram Emmanuel cry foul. He led the cover up for the killing of Laquan McDonald.

  168. All I'm now interested in learning is: who made the call to Ms. Foxx that produced this result?

  169. Surely activist AND victim Smollett will demand the police find his assailants?

  170. Betting trump begrudgingly admiring Smollett arrogantly trumping justice.

  171. I worked City Hall for a few years in the 90s. Chicago is run as a feudal medieval territory where government decisions are made based on which official/employee can benefit and no ethics are followed. Sorry, just telling it like it was and most likely still is. Obviously, someone had an in with the prosecutor's office.

  172. Obviously Mr Smollet needs professional help to address the mental illness that has him in this predicament. What is interesting is the rough parallel Mr. Smollet’s case has to President Trump’s recent debacle that has freed the President from formal criminal charges. Both are so to speak “exonerated” of the crimes that they are suspected of committing. Both report forceful denials of any wrongdoing yet both are understood to have earned the suspicion they have received. Mr. Smollet has apparently psychologically internalized Trump’s game so well that he too has succeeded in burying the investigatory record. Perhaps he should now launch his political career?

  173. Before 2019 had we ever heard of Smollett? No. He was this little nerdy actor who was totally forgettable. Now we all know his name and he will get parts because we know his name. Even when he sues the City of Chicago, it will be to his advantage. He’ll win and taxpayers will pay. He got what he wanted...to improve his career. Doesn’t seem fair, somehow.

  174. My thoughts also. What is the old adage about publicity? Any publicity is good. Smollett now has a brand.

  175. Perhaps the greatest injustice perpetrated by Smollett's obvious charade is that he will become a go-to skeptic's excuse for doubting victims' reports of hate crimes. Sure statistics show that on the order of 97% of such accounts are true but the Smollett affair is 100 times more familiar to the public.

  176. We have a legal system that is about as fair and impartial as Zimbabwe's and our monetary policies are quite similar as well. Only our citizens are much more gullible and our policies disguised a bit. Make no mistake, no matter what your meaningless "party affiliation" is the nation is on a downhill slide form which it will never fully recover. We are, militarily, too strong to ever die at the hands of those who wish us harm but look around, talk to people, watch cable news....this is what it looks like when a nation commits suicide.

  177. As a person of neither riches or fame, I assume as I move through the world, that if I make a grumpy face at an off-duty police officer, there is a definite possibility that I could wind up shot to death. It must be a lovely feeling to know, as a person of means and/or fame, that you may simply deny a clear collection of evidence arrayed against you, and the prosecutor will shrug and say, "Oh, how can I stay mad at you?"

  178. This is like the part in a Law & Order episode where in the law offices in the 2nd half of the show, once all the police work is over, the DA says: 'Cut a deal'. That said, given the profile of the case, the cutting of such a deal should have included an admission of guilt.

  179. I'm wondering what news agency is going to be the first to try and FOIA the sealed records.

  180. Wonder if Kim Foxx happened to mention Tina Tchen’s importance to Smollett’s family before she recused herself. Then sealed the file. There needs to be an investigation of this. Foxx should receive a reprimand for contacting the family. But then Foxx is bulletproof. Somehow the movers and shakers in ChiTown seem to live outside the box. Permanently not following the rules.

  181. We suffer from the same bad actors in my Federal workplace located squarely in Chicago: those whose lives have been subsidised by entitlement programs and their money, who think that any attention is better than being ignored. Just because one lacks education, comprehension and ability should be no obstacle to holding a job that pays $150K, because one is entitled to that job under Affirmative Action. And despite the outcry from the blatant lack of capability, Political Correctness forbids any adverse personnel action because even under Trump, those people are precious in Uncle Sugar's sight...

  182. How are the rest of us supposed to believe in justice, the rule of law, when Jussie Smollett walks away from a Grand Jury indictment? How can anyone now say justice is blind? Instead it appears justice looks out for the privileged. What a shame on our society!

  183. Dropping of this case is of course a a betrayal of the police as the comment from jrd indicates. However, it was a betrayal also of the jury and of the norms of justice that the state attorneys concerned are paid to uphold. And if, as seems quite possible, it was done motivated by notions of "racial solidarity" with an individual who was in turn motivated by greed for fame and wealth, then that makes it all the more damaging in a number of ways. One of which is the broader goal of ending racial discrimination against black people.

  184. Maybe this has nothing to do with corruption or back room deal making. Maybe this is nothing more than blatant incompetence by the prosecutor's office, police department and mayor's office. Incompetence so bold and incredible that you have to blame it on something else!