Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was once a celebrated figure on the left, popular with powerful people in both Hollywood and the government. And when people briefly thought he was the target of a hate crime by a pair of Trump fans, he was a sympathetic symbol of our troubled nation’s racial divide. But now it seems as if the poor guy is running out of friends quickly and everyone is throwing him under the bus. The latest person to jump on the dogpile is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She may have had her own issues with the Chicago PD over the years, but in this case, she’s taking their side and saying that Smollett needs to be held accountable for what was obviously a hate crime hoax. (CBS Chicago)
“He needs to face the charges. He committed a crime, and he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we are going to continue to aggressively make him accountable for the wasted police resources that went into investigating what turned out to be a total hoax,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
Smollett is accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack in January of last year. This is the second time he has been charged in the case.
Earlier this month, a special grand jury indicted Smollett on six counts of disorderly conduct, accusing him of filing false police reports.
Lightfoot isn’t the only one bailing out on Smollett. We recently learned that even State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was supporting the new charges against the actor. And she’s the one who let him off the hook in the first place. Of course, she’s facing several primary challengers in her next election at the moment and they’re all busy reminding the voters what she did in the Smollett case originally, so she probably can’t avoid that.
As John discussed yesterday, Smollett dutifully showed up at his arraignment this week to plead not guilty to all of the charges. I have to wonder whether his attorneys advised him to do this or if he’s forcing the issue on his own. It sounds like a terrible idea to me. If he had accepted some sort of a plea deal to avoid a trial, he might have still managed to get off with some community service if he repays all of the money that was wasted on him.
But if he goes to the wall and forces a full trial, it’s not hard to imagine the prosecutors pushing for the maximum penalty and the judge throwing the book at him. He could conceivably still wind up spending some time in jail when all is said and done.
And what sort of defense can Smollett possibly offer? This entire affair has been investigated and examined in the finest detail, with extraordinary resources being poured into the effort. The prosecution has more than sufficient physical evidence, video evidence and testimony as to how it all went down. There were only three people involved on the night in question. Even his accomplices, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, have gone public with a call for Smollett to come clean and admit that it was a hoax.
What does the guy have left? You’d think that his attorneys wouldn’t allow him to crash forward with a not guilty plea unless they had something up their sleeves, but I simply can’t fathom what it might be. The police have piles of records documenting everything they found, right down to the receipts for the rope and other materials the Osundairo brothers purchased to pull off the hoax.
Could it be that Smollett is somehow still under the impression that his connections to the Obamas and other powerful figures in Chicago, Hollywood and beyond will still somehow be able to ride to the rescue and get him out of this mess again? If so, he would clearly be delusional. And all of this should give him plenty to think about if he winds up sitting in a cell for a few months.