President Donald Trump on Thursday called the Jussie Smollett case “an embarrassment to our Nation,” just days after state prosecutors abruptly dropped all criminal charges against the “Empire” actor, who was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself.
The FBI and Justice Department will review the “outrageous” case, the president wrote on Twitter.
In January, Smollett, who is gay and black, claimed that two men viciously attacked him in Chicago. He alleged that they shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck. He also claimed they shouted “This is MAGA country,” referring to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” But investigators later said Smollett hired the two men to stage the attack to help him obtain a pay raise.
However, the Cook County state attorney’s office on Tuesday unexpectedly dropped all 16 felony counts against Smollett for allegedly staging the attack and lying to police about it ― prompting shock and confusion from Chicago officials.
Smollett performed two days of community service this week and was forced to forfeit a $10,000 bond, a fraction of the more than $150,000 it reportedly cost the city to pursue this case.
It wasn’t clear from Trump’s tweet on Thursday whether he thinks the charges against Smollett should not have been dropped, or whether he thinks Smollett shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Last month, Trump accused Smollett of insulting “tens of millions of people” with his reference to the “MAGA” slogan.
The Chicago Police Department and the state prosecutor who dropped the charges against Smollett have nevertheless said they believe he is guilty. But the actor maintains that he was the victim of a brutal hate crime and denies his own involvement.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollett said at a press conference Tuesday. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time and, honestly, one of the worst of my entire life.”