In a string of days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not charge President Donald Trump with a crime but did not exonerate him of obstruction either, and President Trump responded by claiming “complete and total exoneration. Now, charges have been dropped in Chicago against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, and this somehow became related.
News out of Chicago broke on Tuesday that all felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett for allegedly filing a false report have been dropped. Smollett’s attorneys Tina Giandian and Patricia Brown Holmes responded by saying that Smollett’s record “has been wiped clean.”
“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement,” they said. The said that Smollett is a “victim” who “deserves dignity and respect.”
The saga began with Smollett as the alleged victim of a racist homophobic attack, then saw him as a person who faked a hate crime for fame, and now the charges are gone. Nonetheless, it seems the “slate wiped clean” remark struck a nerve that hasn’t been seen since the president proclaimed on Sunday that he had been “completely exonerated.”
Some seem to believe that Smollett has been exonerated, which is not exactly so. Smollett will perform community service and forfeit bond.
NEW from Chicago: Joe Magats, the first assistant state's attorney who made the final decision to drop the charges against Jussie Smollett, says in an interview: "We didn't exonerate him."
— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) March 26, 2019
Legal fact check – Prosecutors never exonerate anyone. They either prosecute or they don’t.
— Page Pate (@pagepate) March 26, 2019
It seemed implicit that doing the community service is a semi-admission that a wrong was done. But the way prosecutors described this seemed to suggest the opposite.
— Tasneem N (@TasneemN) March 26, 2019
Notice that they say Smollett’s service in the community is “voluntary.”
Jussie Smollett exonerated! This is crazy. https://t.co/j8ZNDiokGG
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) March 26, 2019
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.
Jussie Smollett will be rightfully exonerated because his charges are dropped (rightfully so).
But Chicago PD will also be exonerated by those on the fence because they can now not be held accountable over some sealed documents.
This is all messed up.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) March 26, 2019
Responses like this received some pretty quick backlash, and the invariably referred to Trump.
Is it just me, or was jussie Smollett just totally and completely exonerated? Where have I heard that before?
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) March 26, 2019
The "clearly Smollett was exonerated" responses are cute, but there's a world of difference between a finding of *no evidence* and the evidence existing, but prosecutors striking a deal. C'mon.
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) March 26, 2019
Jussie Smollett is neither guilty nor exonerated.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) March 26, 2019
So wait a minute…was Jussie Smollett just completely and totally exonerated?
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 26, 2019
When else did we recently hear that a decision not to prosecute does not equal exoneration? https://t.co/JP5d130FDk
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) March 26, 2019
[Image via Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images]