The strange case of actor Jussie Smollett continues to unravel, and in ways unexpected. Among other things, Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx has just changed her story as to why she recused herself (after earlier changing her story as to whether she had recused herself), and Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff is resisting a subpoena into her involvement. Whatever else is clear from all this, Jussie Smollett is remarkably well-connected for a B-actor getting small parts — to no less than the Obamas as well as ’60’s radical communist Angela Davis.
I present the events as a timeline for easier comprehension.
1980s-1990s | Jussie is raised in a household chummy with left-wing radicals
Per a 2016 NYT interview, which recently resurfaced: “’My mom was in the movement with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, and one of her first mentors was Julian Bond,’ Mr. Smollett said of the Black Panther founders and the civil rights leader. ‘To this day, Angela Davis is one of her dearest friends. We’ve spent Mother’s Day with Angela.’ [Angela Davis, a lifelong communist, was linked to a notorious kidnapping and murder of four.] ‘Their sense of justice is very strong, and it permeates everything that they do,’ said Alfre Woodard.”
1990s – 2010s | Smollett gets small parts in Hollywood, and eventual role on Empire
Per Wikipedia, Smollett got parts in the comedy/adventure North (1994), directed by Director and Democratic party activist Rob Reiner, as well as The Mighty Ducks (1992). In 2015, he scores a role on Empire.
2007 | Misdemeanor conviction for false name
Per Wikipedia, he gave a false name in a DUI case. “Smollett pleaded no contest to providing false information to law enforcement in a 2007 misdemeanor case resulting from a DUI stop in which Smollett gave police a false name and signed his brother’s name on the summons promising to appear in court. Smollett also pleaded no contest to driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and driving without a valid driver’s license, and was sentenced to a fine and two years of probation.”
January, 2019 | Smollett claims to be victim of hate-crime committed by Trump supporters
Per Wikipedia, “Smollett told police that he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks who called him racial and homophobic slurs, and said ‘This is MAGA country’, referencing President Donald Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ and used their hands, feet, and teeth as weapons in the assault.” He attributed the attack to his heroic public criticism of the Trump administration.
February, 2019 | Smollett charged with filing a false report to police
Per the NYT, police investigation revealed the “attack” to have been acted out by two fellow actors from the Empire show. “Investigators were able to track two men who appeared on video footage not far from the scene that night. Using ride share data, they discovered the two were brothers who in fact knew Mr. Smollett. One had acted as an extra on Empire. The police initially identified the brothers as possible suspects in the attack, but then released them without filing any charges. The men told investigators that Mr. Smollett had coordinated a faux attack and paid them to participate in it.”
February, 2019 | Media do damage control for Smollett
The Hollywood Reporter asks: “one question is whether the pressures and anxieties of modern fame played any role in Smollett’s seemingly inexplicable behavior.” Meanwhile, Good Morning America gives Smollett a gushingly sympathetic interview, in which Smollett cries about his experience.
February, 2019 | Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff consults with prosecutor
Per the Daily Caller, “Tina Tchen, who served as chief of staff to then-first lady Michelle Obama, claimed that she had reached out to the prosecutor because Smollett’s family had some concerns about the investigation.”
February, 2019 | Prosecutor says she is recusing herself from case
Per the the Chicago Sun-Times, “Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett investigation after facilitating conversations between Smollett’s family and the Chicago Police Department.”
March 2019 | All charges against Smollet inexplicably dropped
Per Wikipedia, all charges filed against Smollett were dropped, with Judge Steven Watkins ordering the public court file sealed. First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said the office reached a deal with Smollett’s defense team in which prosecutors dropped the charges upon Smollett performing 16 hours of community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.
March 2019 | Prosecutor says she didn’t recuse herself from case after all
Per CNN, “Although we used the term recuse as it relates to State’s Attorney Foxx’s involvement in this matter, it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense, the office said in a statement.”
March 2019 | FBI announces investigation of why charges were dropped
Per Buzzfeed, “President Trump told reporters that he had directed federal officials to review the case. ‘I think the case in Chicago is an absolute embarrassment to our country. I have asked that they look at it,’ Trump said. ‘Somebody has to, at least, take a very good, hard look at it.'”
May 2019 | Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff resisting subpoeana
Per the Chicago Sun-Times, “Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama, stepped up her fight on Wednesday to quash a subpoena digging for information about her role in Jussie Smollett’s alleged fake hate crime case.”
May 2019 | Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx changes story as to why she recused herself
Per USA Today, “Chicago’s top prosecutor gave a new justification in documents released Friday for why she recused herself from the investigation into Empire actor Jussie Smollett’s claim he was the victim of a hate crime: there were false rumors she was related to Smollett and she didn’t want any hint of a conflict of interest.”
Meanwhile, in this brilliant re-editing of his ABC interview, Jussie Smollett finally tells the truth.