“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and his attorneys held a press conference after his emergency hearing Tuesday morning, and Smollett spoke about his alleged hate crime incident for the first time.
Smollett, unsurprisingly, maintained his innocence and noted that he is “relieved” that the charges against him have been dropped.
Jussie Smollett: "I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one…This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life" https://t.co/kNQqMavks3 pic.twitter.com/j8JakzSF4X
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 26, 2019
“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollet said. “This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life”
He went on to thank his supporters for standing by him through his ordeal.
“I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and world who have prayed for me, supported me and shown me love,” Smollett added. “No one will ever know how much that has meant to me. Not for a moment was it in vain.”
Smollett closed his short speech to reporters by reiterating his dedication to serving the oppressed, claiming that he will “continue to fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.”
— Variety (@Variety) March 26, 2019
It’s not clear what led to prosecutors choosing to drop the charges against Smollett, but the Cook County State’s Attorney did not openly admit that Smollett was innocent of allegations that he orchestrated his own “hate crime” back on January 29th.
A statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney seemed to indicate that controversial prosecutor Kim Foxx operated as judge, jury, and executioner, allowing Smollett to walk free in return for unspecified, previously completed “community service” and $10,000 — part of Smollett’s bond, which will now be forefeit to the city of Chicago — in lieu of undergoing trial and sentencing.
The Smollett case was sealed by a judge Tuesday morning, so it may never be known what evidence the court was to consider in Smollett’s eventual, now cancelled, trial.
Foxx, herself, is the subject of a complaint to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago from the Chicago Police Department, which claims that Foxx tried to interfere in CPD’s investigation of Smollett at the request of a Smollett relative and a former aide to Michelle Obama. Tuesday’s decision marked a clear, offensive action against CPD on the part of Foxx’s office; Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he was not informed of Foxx’s decision, and found out that charges had been dropped through the media.
Foxx had recused herself from the decision to charge Smollett, but not from the full case.
Smollett’s lawyers also seemed taken aback by the sudden decision to drop charges, telling media in the press conference that the case has been a whirlwind.
Attorney for Jussie Smollett: "I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred. I can just say that things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control" https://t.co/kNQqMavks3 pic.twitter.com/mStgoj6ug4
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 26, 2019
“I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred. I can just say that things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control,” Smollett’s attorneys told media. They refused to answer whether they would pursue a case against the Chicago Police Department for “harassment.”
Smollett, although not facing charges from Chicago, does not appear to be completely off the hook just yet. The FBI is still reportedly investigating a letter, sent to Smollett at Fox’s Chicago studios, containing a “white powder” later discovered to be crushed Tylenol. CPD and others noted, in the midst of their own investigation, that the FBI and the United States Postal Inspector were considering whether Smollett sent the letter to himself.