If ‘Facts Are as the Police Say,’ There’s ‘Potential for a Serious Crime’ in Smollett Case
Alan Dershowitz weighs in on the possible hate hoax that took Chicago and much of the nation by storm
If “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett truly did orchestrate a hoax and pretend to be the victim of a hate crime, as the Chicago police say he did, then “we have a potential for a serious crime,” Harvard Law school professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
Smollett (pictured above) turned himself in to the Chicago police on Thursday morning on suspicion of filing a false report. He was released later that day after paying a $10,000 bond as a percentage of his total bail. He will face a felony charge of disorderly conduct.
The actor, who is gay and African-American, alleged that two white supporters of President Donald Trump’s attacked him on January 29. He said they threw a noose around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country!”
These hate-crime allegations horrified many Americans. Although inconsistencies and discrepancies soon plagued Smollett’s version of events, many mainstream media members and liberals gobbled up the allegations and rushed to tie them to Trump.
But Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a press conference on Thursday that Smollett paid $3,500 to two Nigerian brothers who played extras on “Empire” to carry out the “attack” against him — because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
Smollett’s best defense is relying on the precedent that “nobody ever gets prosecuted for making false reports,” Dershowitz told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
“If the facts are as the police say they are — if actually payments were made and a plan was hatched to put a rope around the neck and a police report was filed — then we have a potential for a serious crime,” Dershowitz said.
“I think people who make false reports ought to go to jail.”
“Look — we have to presume everybody’s innocent,” Dershowitz added. “So we have to wait and see. Good, creative defense lawyers come up with creative defenses.”
Ingraham argued that “given the toxicity” of Smollett’s alleged attack claims and “the heat that is on Chicago and race relations” as a result, Smollett should face severe legal consequences.
“We have to look at the context,” Dershowitz agreed. “We have to look at the pressures on the city. And in the end I do think a case like this — if the evidence is as overwhelming as it looks like it is — there’ll probably be some kind of a plea bargain, some kind of a deal.”
“He’ll probably admit it and apologize and do some community service,” Dershowitz continued. “But I do think — I agree with you — I think people who make false reports ought to go to jail.”
Dershowitz noted that if Smollett indeed had been attacked in a “racist way” with “a noose around his neck,” then the perpetrators “would have gotten some years in jail.”
“Look, I think in general there ought to be a policy of prosecuting vigorously people who make false accusations — deliberately false accusations for money,” Dershowitz said.
“Let’s wait. Let’s not rush to judgment. This does seem like a strong case. But I want to hear all the facts before I come to any conclusion.”
Check out more in the video below: