Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel accused President Donald Trump of creating a “hate-filled environment” in which he said “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett “thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime.”
The Democratic mayor said Trump contributed to “a toxic, vicious cycle,” pointing to the President’s remarks about the 2017 Charlottesville rally that there were “fine people on both sides” of a clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters.
“The only reason that Jussie Smollett thought he could get away with this hoax about a hate crime is because of the environment President Trump created,” Rahm Emanuel told reporters Thursday.
Emanuel said Trump should “stay out of this,” responding to the President’s announcement on Twitter Thursday that the Justice Department and FBI would review Smollett’s case.
“This is a president that drew a moral equivalency between people who are trying to perpetuate bigotry and those who are trying to fight bigotry,” Emanuel said.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told Chicago police that he was attacked on January 29 by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, put a noose around his head, poured bleach on him, and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” police said. After investigating the case as a possible hate crime, Chicago police later said they believed Smollett staged the attack by hiring the two men and then filed a false police report.
Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct, but a prosecutor dropped all the charges on Tuesday. The actor has stuck to his story that he was attacked in January, insisting that he’s been “truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One.”
Emanuel called the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges “a whitewash of justice,” while Trump said that the case “is an absolute embarrassment to our country,”