A prominent Democratic congresswoman has weighed in on the recent developments of Jussie Smollett’s case, saying that the Illinois state prosecutors made the right move to drop the actor’s charges.
In an interview with Extra, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said she thought it was the “correct” thing for prosecutors to drop 16 felony counts against Smollett. The “Empire” actor, who is black and gay, was accused of faking a hate crime against himself and blaming it on supporters of President Donald Trump.
“It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped,” Waters told the entertainment website, during an interview after she was honored with the NAACP Chairman Award. Smollett was also nominated but did not win the best-supporting-actor award.
“First of all, we probably will never know all of the details. We’ve heard a lot of information. No one was hurt—that is, physically, killed, shot—he never committed a crime before, he forfeited the bail and it’s this kind of situation where they close the case all over the country every day. I have learned this isn’t unusual.”
The congresswoman, who made headlines herself last year for making violence-inciting comments, went on to surmise that the case attracted a lot of attention because of Smollett’s “talent.” She said, “[H]e’s an extremely talented man who people have come to love because he is on TV.”
Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two white men on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago, but police later arrested two black Nigerian-Americans for the alleged attacks. The two men told authorities that Smollett paid them to pull off the supposed hate crime.
The 36-year-old actor was arrested in mid-February on charges of filing a false police report.
Joe Magats, the assistant state attorney who made the decision, told the New York Times that they did not exonerate Smollett. Instead, he said the decision was made in exchange for the actor completing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.
The decision to drop all charges against Smollett received public backlash and condemnation from Chicago officials.
Chicago police officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were furious after the charges were dropped, with the mayor calling it a “whitewash of justice.”
The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has also criticized the Cook County State’s Attorney’s handling of Smollett’s case.
“The manner in which this case was dismissed was abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law in criminal courthouses across the State,” the association that represents nearly 1,000 prosecutors across the state said in a statement on March 28. “Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges alike do not recognize the arrangement Mr. Smollett received.”
“Even more problematic, the State’s Attorney and her representatives have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal,” they added.
Moreover, President Donald Trump said the FBI and Department of Justice will review the unusual agreement, which didn’t include Smollett admitting to any wrongdoing.
FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2019
In response to the public’s concern, lead prosecutor Kim Foxx said in an opinion piece on March 29 that she welcomed an outside investigation into her office for the decision to dismiss the actor’s charges.
NTD News reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.