In a verdict that may be surprising only to the defendant himself, a Chicago jury said Jussie Smollett was guilty of manufacturing a hate crime. He will face sentencing on five of the six felonies – with the jury finding him not guilty of telling a detective he was the victim of an aggravated battery days later. While the convictions come with a possible three-year sentence, a fine and probationary term are the more likely consequences.
Smollett, then a starring actor on the popular television show Empire, infamously claimed two Trump supporters attacked him in the wee small hours of January 29, 2019. He told a credulous ABC news anchor, Robin Roberts, he was likely targeted because of his strong criticism of President Trump. The incident was a hate crime two times over because Smollett said the assailants addressed him as a “f—-t” and a “n—–” during the encounter. Attacks motivated by bias against both race and sexual identity are treated much more harshly by state and federal laws.
When First We Practice To Deceive
In the face of criticism that Chicago police did not take the crime seriously, Windy City law enforcement investigated the charges exhaustively, and every turn led them to a single and obvious conclusion: Jussie Smollett faked the whole thing. They eventually arrested two brothers, Abimbola “Bola” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, for conducting the attack. The Osundairos soon came clean with police and admitted to participating in the hoax for $3,500. They were star witnesses for the prosecution. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb asked the jury, “He’s dumb enough to go into Obama’s city and pretend there’s Trump supporters running around with Maga hats?”
Smollett was quickly charged with 16 felony disorderly conduct counts after the police investigated his fakery, but the fix was in, thanks to Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney. Foxx, a George Soros-backed prosecutor, pretended to recuse herself and then made sure Smollett wasn’t facing real consequences. Smollett was able to leverage his connection to high-profile politicians, including the Obamas and Kamala Harris, to ensure he got away with it, and he almost did. A state court judge eventually stopped that, however, and appointed an independent prosecutor. Smollett was then re-indicted on six counts last year by a Cook County, Illinois, grand jury.
Only those who could get to the courthouse in Chicago could see the evidence or listen to the witnesses because that’s what Smollett wanted. In Illinois, a defendant can prevent his trial from being televised.
If The Facts Don’t Fit
According to Fox News reporter Matt Finn, the prosecutor instructed the jury on six points that voided the defendant’s credibility:
1) Smollett withheld “critical” evidence from police. He refused to give his phone data and medical records to the police. They would have revealed hoax planning and no beating because Smollett sustained only scratches from the pretend attack.
2) He lied about the race of the perpetrators. Mr. Smollett initially told police the attackers were white, then said light-skinned.
3) The rope was tied into a loop, not a noose, and the security camera video shows Smollett moved it around on his neck with a knot in a different place than when police arrived. He told Robin Roberts that he never touched the rope.
4) Smollett initially said he didn’t know who attacked him, even though now Smollett claims he and Abimbola Osundairo were lovers.
5) All medical evidence corroborates the testimony of the Osundairo brothers that they pulled their punches. A doctor testified Smollett had “no injuries.”
6.) Smollett never signed a criminal complaint against the Osundairos. Police had the brothers in custody, and Smollett indicated he would sign a complaint but never did.
What the What?!?
During the last day of testimony, one of Smollett’s lawyers accused the trial judge of assault. Per the Chicago Tribune:
“It was a jaw-dropping moment in an already dramatic trial: An attorney for Jussie Smollett said in court that, just moments before, the judge presiding over the case had lunged at her while attorneys huddled in a sidebar.”
“[Judge James] Linn vigorously denied it, and the courtroom devolved into something close to chaos. Spectators murmured, attorneys began an animated argument for a mistrial, and Linn denied the accusation strenuously. He had simply been extremely surprised at what attorneys requested during the sidebar, he said.”
Vice President Kamala Harris’ tweet calling the hoax “an attempted modern-day lynching” is still up. Robin Roberts and her Good Morning America program have not reported on the case since the trial started. At the end of his interview with her, Smollett concluded, “I still want to believe, with everything that’s happened, that there’s something called justice. Cause if I stop believing in that, then what’s it all for?”
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.