Thursday, February 13, 2020

Jussie Smollett is about to face justice after being indicted on six counts - Andrea Widburg

by Andrea Widburg

Not only is Smollett once again at risk of imprisonment, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s re-election campaign is in panic mode.

A year ago, Jussie Smollett, a mid-level actor on Empire, alleged that two MAGA men attacked him on a cold, dark Chicago night. It later turned out that he’d staged the whole thing to get himself some much-needed publicity (and, as a side benefit, to smear Trump supporters).

Based upon evidence that Smollett had hired fellow actors Abel and Ola Osundairo to fake the attack, he was charged with disorderly conduct and lying to investigators. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was the lead prosecutor on the case.

However, after phone calls with Tina Tchen, a former chief of staff for Michelle Obama during the latter’s First Lady days, and with Smollett’s relatives, Foxx first recused herself from the prosecution and then tried to get Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who’d been heading the Smollett investigation, to turn the matter over to the FBI.

Following this news, the prosecution abruptly dropped the charges against Smollett. The police were dismayed, as were then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Johnson. In the ensuing uproar, a Cook County judge appointed Dan Webb, a former U.S. Attorney, to act as a special prosecutor examining why the State Attorney’s office dropped the charges and, specifically, whether, despite her recusal, Foxx’s calls with Tchen and Smollett’s relatives had influenced the prosecution’s decision..

Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, issued the expected statement expressing outrage and complaining about various conflicts of interest:
This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett's pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.
After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State's Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.
What’s more interesting, and more amusing, is the statement that came from Foxx’s re-election campaign:
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same. What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive.
One has to be impressed by a statement that mentions both James Comey and Donald Trump as if they are operating in tandem.

The oozing and completely irrelevant Trump hatred is to be expected. What’s surprising is the reference to Comey.

Comey was the head of the FBI when it investigated Hillary’s manifestly illegal conduct in connection with her server and her emails. On July 5, 2016, Comey gave a highly unusual public statement in which he described in detail all of Hillary’s wrongdoing. Then, he made an abrupt U-turn and stated that, because her actions were due to carelessness, not criminal intent, everything was copacetic.

Republican outrage was palpable. Not only had Comey acted outside of his role, taking upon himself a decision belonging to the Attorney General, he had also incorrectly stated the applicable legal standard. Democrats were delighted because this meant Hillary was still in the game. Comey was king.

Then, on October 26, 2016, just two weeks before the election, Comey announced that he was re-opening the investigation after agents discovered more Hillary emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. Now it was the Democrats’ turn to be outraged. Ten days later, Comey was back, announcing once again that everything was copacetic. Three days later, Hillary lost the election.

As the statement from Foxx’s campaign shows, Comey will forever be a byword for criminal investigations that occur near elections. While Comey babbles on about “a higher loyalty,” he’s going to go down in history as a Benedict Arnold: someone hated by both sides, the one because he betrayed them and the other because no one likes an unprincipled betrayer.

On Smollett’s guilt, Dave Chappelle gets the last word:

Andrea Widburg


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