Maxine Waters: Prosecutors Did ‘Correct Thing’ Dropping Smollett Charges

Representative Maxine Waters speaks during a national day of action called “Keep Families Together” to protest the Trump administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy in Los Angeles, California, June 30, 2018. (Monica Almeida/Reuters)

Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) claimed over the weekend that Cook County prosecutors did the “correct thing” by dropping the charges pending against Empire actor Jussie Smollett after a grand jury indicted him for staging a hate crime.

“It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped,” Waters told Extra in a Sunday interview. “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.”

Cook County state’s attorney Kimberly Foxx announced Tuesday that she had dropped disorderly-conduct charges against Smollett due to his history of community service and the nature of the crime.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” a statement from Foxx’s office said.

The charges were dropped weeks after an emotional press conference in which Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson laid out ample evidence that Smollett had diverted police resources by staging a hate crime against himself in order to advance his career.

“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said at a February press conference announcing the charges against Smollett. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve. . . . The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary.”

Johnson’s characterization of Smollett’s actions was based on a 23-day investigation that produced evidence that the actor paid two friends to attack him. Police obtained surveillance footage of the two men, one of whom acted on Empire with Smollett, purchasing the items used in the staged assault, as well as a check made out to the two men for their services.

Despite the version of events presented by Johnson based on the evidence gathered by officers, Waters hopes Smollett goes on to future success in show business.

Smollett garnered “a lot of attention because of who he is — he’s an extremely talented man who people have come to love because he is on TV. I’m hopeful that he will go on with his career and be successful,” she said.

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, which had called for a federal investigation into Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case, protested outside her office on Monday afternoon.

Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, contacted Foxx days after Smollett filed the allegedly false report on behalf of Smollett’s relatives to ask that she request that the probe be handed over to the FBI to avoid media leaks. Foxx told Tchen that she complied with the requests in texts and emails obtained by CWBChicago.

Foxx said Friday that she is open to an outside investigation into her handling of the case.

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