While the hate hoax case against Empire star Jussie Smollett seemed to be poised to calm down to the point of wondering whether Fox might reinstate the young actor on the show, President Donald Trump weighed in this morning on Twitter, ensuring more scrutiny:
“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” (See the tweet below.) The social media declaration from POTUS comes hours after reports emerged that the Bureau were probing the state deal that saw the Empire actor escape trial and potentially jail.
This is the latest development in a tumultuous week full of surprises after prosecutors abruptly dropped the case, with Smollett forfeiting his bond of $10,000 and doing 16 hours of community service to see his 16-felony count indictment go away. He was charged with lying to police in the staging of a hate crime in which he claimed to have been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack while returning late one night to his Chicago home.
Investigators concluded Smollett staged the incident and that he paid two bodybuilder brothers of Nigerian descent $3,500 to accost him, allegedly in a misguided attempt for sympathy and a pay raise. Smollett’s initial version of events veered directly to President Trump, as his attackers were alleged to have said “This is MAGA country,” a racially polarizing reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
The president initially reacted with sympathy when news of the Smollett attack first hit the media, saying “That I can tell you is horrible, it doesn’t get worse.”
Officials including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson have expressed outrage. The Mayor yesterday called Smollett’s dismissal a “whitewash” on Good Morning America on Wednesday. Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes yesterday called the continued scrutiny a “smear campaign.”