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Chicago Mayor Says City Will Send Smollett Bill for Investigation

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city plans to send a bill to “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for the cost of the investigation into his report of an alleged hate crime attack earlier this year. 

Emanuel, who has bashed prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Smollett in exchange for community service and his $10,000 bond, told reporters Thursday he expects to ask Smollett and his legal team to write a check.

“The police are assembling the cost [of the investigation],” Emanuel said. “They’ll do that and then the corporation counsel of the city of Chicago will communicate to Jussie Smollett and his legal team about recouping that cost in that effort. And, given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section he can put the word, ‘I’m accountable’ for the hoax.”

“The finance is a piece of it and an acknowledgement that what he did at every level was wrong,” he added.

A representative for Smollett’s legal team said “it is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie – owe him an apology – for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough.” 

Emanuel also clapped back at President Donald Trump, who tweeted earlier Thursday that the case “is an embarrassment to our Nation!” 

“My recommendation to the president is go to Opening Day baseball. Sit on the sideline,” he said. “Stay out of this.”

“[Trump] created an environment that people think, like – I’m not done, I’m just getting started – that Jussie Smollett thinks that that hate-filled environment that the president created, pinning one American against another because of their background, then creates an environment he thought he could take an advantage of and create a hoax around a hate crime,” he added. “It is a vicious, toxic environment and cycle. I want to break it.” 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice will review the case, Trump claimed in his tweet Thursday. Both the FBI and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the case Thursday morning, according to NBC News. 

Smollett’s attorney said Thursday the actor simply wants to “move on,” claiming the aftermath of the alleged beating was “much harsher” than the attack itself.

“What that attack was pales in comparison to the attack on him by the mayor, by the CPD, by the press, by the public,” one of Smollett’s lawyers Tina Glandian said in an appearance on TODAY.

All criminal charges against Smollett were dropped Tuesday, nearly two months after the actor was accused of orchestrating a hate crime attack on himself. The surprise decision to dismiss the charges was celebrated by Smollett and his legal team and blasted by Chicago’s mayor and police department, who raised questions about the circumstances of the deal. 

In an appearance on TODAY Thursday, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said his legal team was “not at all” concerned about a potential FBI investigation into the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of charges.

“We have nothing to be concerned about because there was nothing on our end to request this, to do anything improper, and to my knowledge, nothing improper was done,” Glandian said.

The news that charges would be dismissed came during an “emergency court appearance” where prosecutors not only dropped the charges against Smollett but agreed to expunge the actor’s record. Prosecutors later said the charges were dismissed in exchange for Smollett’s forfeiture of his $10,000 bond and his performance of community service. 

Smollett pleaded not guilty to multiple disorderly conduct charges earlier this month. He was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report in February, with Chicago police alleging that he staged the attack the month before because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” A Cook County grand jury then indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts.

All Charges Dropped Against ‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett

[NATL] All Charges Dropped Against 'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett

“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 as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment,” Smollett’s attorneys Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement. 

Smollett maintained his innocence, saying after court that he has been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.” 

Smollett reported the alleged attack to police on Jan. 29, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him, according to the indictment.

Initially investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, Chicago police said new information “shifted” their approach to the case, leading them to allege that Smollett orchestrated the assault by hiring two brothers who worked on “Empire” to execute it. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson hammered the decision to dismiss charges against him, saying they were unaware it was happening.

“At the end of the day it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period. If he wanted to clear his name the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence,” Johnson said. “I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts the place to do that is in court.” 

Visibly Angry Mayor on Smollett News: ‘Whitewash of Justice’

[CHI] Visibly Angry Mayor Calls Smollett News a 'Whitewash of Justice'

Emanuel called the decision a “whitewash of justice.”

“Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else,” he said. 

In a statement, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said the decision came “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago.”

“We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement read.

In an interview Wednesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended her office’s decision to drop charges and denied that she had any involvement after recusing herself from the case in February. 

“I did not want, as this investigation changed, for there to be any question about my impartiality so I removed myself,” she said, echoing earlier statements from her office that the decision to drop charges was not uncommon in disorderly conduct cases.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett Speaks After Charges Dropped

[NATL-CHI] WATCH: Jussie Smollett Speaks After Charges Dropped

“Over the course of the last two years, we’ve had 5,700 people go through our pretrial diversion process, people who have non-violent offenses and who have no violence in their background,” Foxx said. “And so I think when people see this one particular case it feels like an outlier where in fact, it’s consistent with how we treat people charged with similar offenses with the same background.”

Documents obtained earlier this month via Freedom of Information Act request showed that Foxx had asked Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI. The documents also showed correspondence between Foxx, an unknown person and Tina Tchen, a one-time assistant to former President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama.

“It was not unusual for me to talk to a victim in a case,” Foxx said. “At the time that I engaged with this family member, Mr. Smollett was a victim.”

Tchen said in a statement she knew members of the Smollett family from “prior work together” and that “as a family friend,” she contacted Foxx “to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”

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TV Personality Jesse James Offers Reward for Return of Dog

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Reality TV star Jesse James is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of one of his beloved dogs.

James in an Instagram post says the 6-year-old French bulldog named Coco went missing in the Newport, Rhode Island area last Tuesday.

In a previous post James had offered a $2,000 reward for the return of his dog “no questions asked.”

He said in that post Coco “only has eyes for me and won’t want to stay with anyone else.”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

James, founder of West Coast Choppers motorcycle customizing business, was the star of “Jesse James is a Dead Man” on Spike TV and “Monster Garage” on the Discovery Channel.

He says there have been reported sightings of the dog but none have panned out.

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Woodstock 50: How the Golden Anniversary Festival Went Off Track

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When the organizers of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary festival put the rock band Hollis Brown on the lineup, lead singer Mike Montali was elated. 

“It’s such an iconic and legendary thing, man,” Montali said, referring to the paisley-printed, mud-splattered 1969 original. “For us, a couple of guys who started our band in a garage in Queens a few years ago, getting on the bill of a Woodstock festival was a huge achievement. It was a dream come true.” 

But now, less than a month before Woodstock 50 is scheduled to begin, the event is in doubt, plagued by a series of behind-the-scenes money headaches and legal setbacks. 

The festival has lost its financial backer, key producing partners and at least one venue, and tickets have not even been put up for sale yet for the Aug. 16-18 concert dates. The parallels to 2017’s calamitous Fyre Festival have not been lost on online skeptics.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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South African Musician Johnny Clegg Dies at 66 After Cancer Battle

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Johnny Clegg, a South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers imposed by the apartheid system decades ago and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela, died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.

The British-born singer sometimes called the “White Zulu” died peacefully at home in Johannesburg with his family there, his manager Roddy Quin told the state broadcaster. “He fought it to the last second.”

Clegg’s multi-racial bands during white minority rule attracted an international following. He crafted hits inspired by Zulu and township harmonies, as well as folk and other influences.

One of his best-known songs is “Asimbonanga,” which means “We’ve never seen him” in Zulu. It refers to South Africans during apartheid when images of then-imprisoned Mandela were banned. Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in prison and became South Africa’s first black president in all-race elections four years later.

Grammy-nominated Clegg “impacted millions of people around the world,” Quin said. “He played a major role in South Africa getting people to learn about other people’s cultures and bringing people together.”

The singer learned about Zulu music and dancing as a teenager when he hung out with a Zulu cleaner and street musician called Charlie Mzila. Clegg later explored his idea of “crossover” music with the multi-racial bands Juluka and Savuka at a time of bitter conflict in South Africa over white minority rule.

Clegg recorded songs he was arrested for and “never gave in to the pressure of the apartheid rules,” his manager said. The apartheid-era censorship also restricted where he could perform.

The musician was performing as late as in 2017, high-kicking and stomping, with the cancer in remission during one last tour called “The Final Journey.”

At a concert in Johannesburg that year, Clegg said that “all of these entries into traditional culture gave me a way of understanding myself, helping me to shape a kind of African identity for myself, and freed me up to examine another way of looking at the world.”

In December, Clegg told South African news channel eNCA that the “toughest part of my journey will be the next two years” and called himself an “outlier” in an interview that mused about mortality.

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[NATL] J. Lo Concert in NYC Cut Short by Power Outage

The performer had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and the grueling treatment included two six-month sessions of chemotherapy and an operation.

“I don’t have a duodenum and half my stomach. I don’t have a bile duct. I don’t have a gall bladder and half my pancreas. It’s all been reconfigured,” he told reporters in 2017.

In that interview, Clegg recalled how he performed “Asimbonanga” during a tour of Germany in 1997 and experienced a “huge shock” when Mandela, beaming and dancing, unexpectedly came out on stage behind him.

“It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world. And at peace with myself,” Mandela said to the audience. He called on Clegg to resume the song and urged all in the audience to get up and dance. At the end of the song, Mandela and Clegg, holding hands, walked off stage.

“That was the pinnacle moment for me,” Clegg recalled. “It was just a complete and amazing gift from the universe.”

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