Author: Laura King
By John Byrne Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will try to get “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to pay Chicago back for the costs of the investigation into his claim that he was the victim of a hate crime attack, saying paying the money would be an implicit admission he was guilty of a hoax.
Appearing on WGN Radio on Thursday morning, Emanuel also called on President Donald Trump to “just sit this one out,” after Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he would tell the FBI to investigate how Smollett’s charges were dropped.
“The fact is, you’re a guy, I take umbrage that you have a person sitting in the Oval Office who drew a moral equivalency in Virginia between those who were fighting bigotry and those who were perpetuating bigotry,” Emanuel said of Trump and his reaction to a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
The mayor said Police Department brass are compiling the costs of the investigation into Smollett’s claim. City lawyers will then send Smollett a letter calling on him to pay the full amount, Emanuel said.
“The police are right now finalizing the cost that was used, police resources to come to the understanding this was a hoax and not a real hate crime,” Emanuel said. “What we spent. The corporation counsel, once they have the finalized and feel good about the numbers, will then send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorneys, trying to recoup those costs for the city.”
“It is a small way of both acknowledging, one, guilt, two, that we spent these resources and the taxpayers deserve, at minimum — because I think there’s a whole other level of ethical costs, because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent, everything I said from day one is true’ — that actually we’re going to get the resources back. But come with those resources is, implicitly, if you pay it, that the city spent money to uncover what the grand jury discovered.”
Smollett’s defense team released a statement later: “It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie — owe him an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough.”
Emanuel went on the radio two days after Cook County prosecutors abruptly dropped a 16-count indictment accusing Smollett of orchestrating a Jan. 29 racist and homophobic attack on himself to advance his career. In dismissing the case, prosecutors said they had cut a deal with the actor to perform two days of community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city of Chicago.
The unusual move allowed Smollett’s attorneys to get his criminal case sealed, catching Chicago police brass by surprise and bringing swift condemnation from Emanuel, who called it a “whitewash of justice.”
Smollett, who is African-American and openly gay, has said he was walking from a Subway sandwich shop to his downtown apartment about 2 a.m. Jan. 29 when two men walked up, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him and wrapped a noose around his neck. Smollett said they also poured a bleachlike substance on him and yelled “This is MAGA country,” in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Police initially treated the incident as a hate crime, but their focus turned to Smollett after the two brothers who were alleged to have been his attackers told police that Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with a promise of an additional $500 later.
Chicago Mayor tells local radio station that he wants Jussie Smollett to pay for the police probe:
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel joins Steve Cochran Show to talk Jussie Smollett outcome. To Donald J. Trump: “Sit this one out”
Posted by WGN Radio on Thursday, March 28, 2019
©2019 Chicago Tribune