The curious prosecution of Jussie Smollett

The trial of Jussie Smollett is finally underway for falsely reporting to Chicago police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019, but the prosecution seems to be conceding an important point to the defendant.

For those who have not followed the incident closely, this timeline, prepared by BBC, is invaluable, starting with the alleged assault, the filing of charges against Smollett, closing of the case, and, February 12, 2020, the filing of six new charges against the former Empire actor by special prosecutor Dan K. Webb.   

Smollett has pleaded not guilty and insists he was the victim of an attack consisting of bleach poured on his head, a noose placed around his neck, and the remark "this is MAGA country" directed at him.

Special Prosecutor Webb, according to The New York Times, opened the trial by telling the jury that Mr. Smollett gave a false report to the police about the alleged attack after he "received an  anonymous 'actual hate letter' which included a homophobic slur and a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a tree."  

The Times' account of Webb's statement continued:

The letter included the acronym "MAGA" made of cutout newspaper and magazine letters, he said, a reference to former President Donald J. Trump's campaign slogan.  Law enforcement has not been able to determine who sent the letter, Mr. Webb said.

The online headline for the Times report highlights the prosecutors' concession and takes it a step farther, imputing authenticity to the threatening letter: "Prosecutors: Jussie Smollett Faked Attack After Real Threat Was Ignored," a curiously exculpatory-sounding summary of the case, one that treats the threatening letter as indisputably genuine.

Halfway into the Times' story, readers are given the police view of this incident, which differed from the account rendered by special prosecutor Webb.  According to the police version of the incident, as set forth in the Times' story: "[M]r. Smollett had planned the attack [carried out by the brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo for $3,500] because he was upset about his salary on 'Empire' and was seeking publicity.  The police also accused him of having written the threatening letter himself."

The Times further reported: "The actor told police his attackers poured bleach on him, placed a rope around his neck, and yelled, 'This is MAGA country.'" 

The apparent willingness of special prosecutor Webb to take seriously the "threatening letter" suggests that not only is this a "he said, they [the Osundairo brothers] said" story; it is also, for the prosecution, a "guilty with an explanation" matter.  

With Smollett insisting that the "attack" happened, can we expect the media to insert the words "false claim" in future reports about Smollett?  No way.  Apparently, however, whatever decision is handed down by the jury, the Empire producers, by firing Smollett, have rendered their verdict.  Oh, and why was a special prosecutor appointed?  Kim Foxx, "Chicago's top prosecutor," per the Times, thought Mr. Smollett was being treated too severely and dropped the felony charges against him.  

Conclusion: In Chicago, the Statue of Lady Justice remains in place, but with eyes wide open, and the scales tilted heavily to the left.

Update from Thomas Lifson: This report from The Daily Wire could convict Smollett of at least some charges and forever discredit him as a hoaxer.  If true.  The title says it all: Video Allegedly Captures Jussie Smollett Practicing 'Dry Run' of Fake Hate Crime.

Photo credit: Sister Circle LiveCC BY 3.0 license.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

If you experience technical problems, please write to