Appearing Thursday morning on WGN Radio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed the Chicago Police Department will seek to recover the money spent on investigating the alleged hate hoax carried out by Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
“The police are right now finalizing the cost that was used, police resources to come to the understanding this was a hoax and not a real hate crime,” said Emanuel. “What we spent. The corporation counsel, once they have the finalized and feel good about the numbers, will then send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorneys, trying to recoup those costs for the city.”
The mayor said Smollett repaying the money spent would an admission of “guilt” and funds the Chicago taxpayers deserve to see returned to the city’s coffers.
“It is a small way of both acknowledging, one, guilt, two, that we spent these resources and the taxpayers deserve, at minimum — because I think there’s a whole other level of ethical costs, because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent, everything I said from day one is true’ — that actually we’re going to get the resources back,” he said. “But come with those resources is, implicitly, if you pay it, that the city spent money to uncover what the grand jury discovered.”
Emanuel also asked that President Donald Trump “just sit this one out,” following a tweet in which the president stated he would direct the FBI to look into why Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against Smollett.
Prosecutors have offered little explanation and infuriated Chicago’s police chief and mayor this week when they dropped 16 felony counts against Smollett related to making a false police report, yet still insisted the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January.
The two brothers who claim they worked with the actor to stage the January attack are lying, according to Smollett attorney Tina Glandian. She said Smollett, who is black and gay, had hired one brother as a personal trainer but had no idea who attacked him along a Chicago street until the brothers were later identified by police.
Police said investigators believe Smollett hired the brothers to stage the early-morning Jan. 29 attack, and that Smollett hoped to gain attention to help advance his career. Police also allege that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter threatening himself to the Chicago television studio where Empire is shot. The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment.
Smollett has repeatedly insisted the attack was real, saying two masked men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an “unknown substance” on him. Police said Smollett also told detectives the attackers yelled he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Prosecutors initially charged Smollett with one felony count, in February. Then earlier this month, a grand jury indicted him on 15 more counts.
In a stunning reversal Tuesday, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett, abandoning the criminal case only five weeks after the allegations were filed.
In return, prosecutors said, the actor agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. The dismissal drew a backlash and raised the question of why Smollett was not forced to admit any wrongdoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.