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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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Cosby Prosecutors Defend Accusers’ Testimony, Fight Appeal – NBC4 Washington

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Prosecutors who won a conviction in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case defended their work as they fight the imprisoned actor’s latest appeal.

Cosby, 82, has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review trial rulings that let five other accusers testify for the prosecution at the 2018 retrial. The same type of “prior bad act” witnesses are testifying this month in movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial in New York.

An intermediate appeals court rejected Cosby’s initial appeal. The state Supreme Court does not have to hear the case.

Montgomery County prosecutors, in their response Thursday, said the testimony from other accusers showed that Cosby “intentionally isolated and intoxicated young women in a signature fashion, then sexually assaulted them.”

Cosby, long beloved as “America’s Dad” for his role in a top-ranked television sitcom in the 1980s, is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after the jury convicted him of drugging and molesting an acquaintance at his home.

Cosby has also long argued that he an agreement with a former prosecutor that he would never be charged over the 2004 encounter. However, the trial judge found no evidence that any promise made was legally binding, the suburban Philadelphia prosecutors argued in their response.

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Halsey Apologizes After Unintentionally Calling for Collapse of One World Trade Center – NBC4 Washington

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Halsey is clarifying a controversial comment she made on social media.

Earlier this week, Pitchfork shared their review of the singer’s new album. “Too much of this album sounds like the amorphous pop that you might associate with a miserable Lyft ride,” the tweet shared.

Ultimately, Halsey saw the review and chose to respond. “Can the basement that they run p*tchfork out of just collapse already,” she posted (then deleted) online.

While it may sound like a standard clap back, one follower couldn’t help but point out that the Pitchfork offices are at the One World Trade Center building in New York City.

“Losing my mind thinking about the person on Halsey’s team who had to tell her she just called for the collapse of One World Trade,” NBC News reporter Ben Kesslen pointed out online. Ultimately, Halsey realized she made a mistake and quickly deleted the post.

Musicians Performing Live on Stage

“ABSOLUTELY deleted it upon realizing this. Was just trying to make a joke! Intended zero harm,” the “Without Me” singer shared on the social media platform. “Just figured I could poke at them back with the same aloof passive aggression they poke at artists with! Clearly a misunderstanding.”

Social media posts aside, Halsey has big plans for the year ahead.

Earlier this month, the pop superstar announced she will be heading out on the North American leg of her Manic World Tour this summer. CHVRHES and Omar Apollo will serve as special guests.

And although many believe Halsey was snubbed out of nominations for the 2020 Grammys, the singer is still feeling grateful for the music she has been able to create.

“My fans, please do not waste your anger or frustration,” she shared shortly after the nominations were announced. “I see a lot of you are upset. Of course I’m sad too. None of it matters. Literally none of it. You’re here. I’m here. Plus everything is gonna stay exactly the same and without me is still a super tight, record breaking song.”

This story first appeared on eonline.com. More from eonline:

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Taylor Swift Talks Eating Disorder, Politics in Revealing New Documentary – NBC4 Washington

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The normally private Taylor Swift premiered an intimate documentary Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival in which the pop star discloses a past eating disorder, chronicles her inner battle over speaking forthrightly about politics and says her victorious 2017 sexual assault court case was a dramatic turning point in her life.

“Miss Americana,” a Netflix documentary directed by Lana Wilson, was one the most feverishly awaited films in this year’s Sundance program, and the premiere at the Eccles Center in Park City on the festival’s opening day was a predictably frenzied scene. Outside the theater, dozens of Swift fans sang in unison.

The film, which will debut Jan. 31 on Netflix, plays like a coming-of-age drama for a performer who — despite finding mega-fame as a teenager — took some time to truly find her voice. In the film, she says she always strove to be “a good girl” and needed approving “pats on the head” for any sense of gratification.

But “Miss Americana” captures an evolution in Swift.

“It’s time to take the masking tape off my mouth, like, forever,” she says in the documentary.

Swift entered the theater after the lights went down to watch the film and appeared afterward on stage in a brief Q&A with Wilson. While Swift said she was a big fan of movies and documentaries, this was a new experience for her. After a standing ovation, Swift turned to Wilson and said, “So I’ve never done this before. What do we do?”

One of the film’s most dramatic scenes shows Swift, eager to speak out against the 2018 Senate campaign of Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, meeting with her family to discuss it. Her father warns against it, citing the potential economic impact. Her publicist later advises President Donald Trump might come after her. Indeed, when Swift posted on Instagram against Blackburn and urged young voters to register, Trump said he liked Swift’s music about 25% less — a response Swift mocks in the film.

On the Eccles stage, Swift said she grew more political after she countersued, and won, against a Denver radio DJ whom she said groped her during a meet-and-greet before a concert.

“It was a really horrible experience to have,” Swift said. “I had all the privilege in the world, financial support and the ability to pay for a brilliant lawyer. I won that trial but without all that, I don’t know what would have happened. It taught me so much.”

Swift also talks in the film about coming to terms with body image issues that grew out of scanning the countless images that are shot of her, and the comments posted on social media. Swift says she would sometimes go into “a hate spiral” and starve herself after seeing photos that she felt she looked overweight in.

“Miss Americana” includes plenty of intimate scenes of Swift at home or at work. She drinks white wine with ice cubes and didn’t try a burrito until a few years ago, we learn.

But a continuous thread through the documentary is of Swift, who last month turned 30, crafting music. In scenes by the piano or in the studio, Wilson captures Swift writing lyrics and honing melodies with a relentless passion.

Swift said she was most nervous about sharing her writing process with Wilson. But the filmmaker earned her trust.

“For so much of my life in the public eye when I get sad or upset or humiliated or angry or go through a really horrible time, I feel like people lean in with, like, this hunger. And you never did that to me,” said Swift to Wilson. “That was what made me feel OK about feeling sadness, humiliation and anger around you.”

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‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Tyler Gwozdz Dead at 29 After Apparent Overdose – NBC4 Washington

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Former “Bachelorette” contestant Tyler Gwozdz has passed away at the age of 29.

E! News has confirmed that the reality star, who competed on Hannah Brown‘s season of the dating series, has died. Gwozdz was hospitalized last week after a suspected overdose.

The Boca Raton Police Services Department previously confirmed to E! News that officers responded to a call for a suspected medical overdose at around 10:45 a.m. local time on Jan. 13. Gwozdz was then transported to the hospital.

PHOTOS: A Brief History of Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” Finales

TMZ previously reported that Gwozdz was admitted to the intensive care unit in a Florida hospital and remained there for about a week.

Bachelor Nation will remember “Tyler G.,” as fans called him, as an early stand-out on Brown’s “Bachelorette” season in 2019, where he received the first one-on-one date. However, shortly after becoming a fan favorite, Gwozdz suddenly left the show without much of a warning to Brown or his fellow contestants, other than he “had to leave.”

Brown has yet to comment on the passing of Gwozdz a psychology grad student.

Gwozdz’s last Instagram post was shared in September. In the photos, he can be seen with fellow Bachelor Nation stars, including Matt Donald, Dylan Barbour and Clay Harbor.

Our thoughts are with Gwozdz’s family during this heartbreaking time.

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Elton John, Erivo, Menzel, Metz Among Oscar Performers – NBC4 Washington

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The singers from five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances live at next month’s Academy Awards.

Producers said Thursday that best actress nominee Cynthia Erivo, Elton John, Idina Menzel, Chrissy Metz and Randy Newman will perform during the Feb. 9 ceremony.

Erivo will sing “Stand Up” from “Harriet.” John will perform “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman.” Newman will sing “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4.”

Menzel will be joined by singer-songwriter Aurora to perform “Into The Unknown” from “Frozen II.” Chrissy Metz will sing “I’m Standing With You” from “Breakthrough.”

The show will also feature an appearance by Questlove and a guest-conducted segment from Eímear Noone, who is the first woman to conduct during an Oscars telecast.

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Ousted Grammy Chief Suggests Awards Are Tainted – NBC4 Washington

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The ousted head of the Grammy Awards says that music’s biggest awards are tainted because of conflicts of interest that affect how certain songs and artists are nominated.

Nevertheless, Deborah Dugan said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that she plans to watch the Grammys this weekend.

Dugan was fired only months into her job as head of the Recording Academy and this week filed an explosive complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission that alleged she was sexually harassed and that the music organization was a “boy’s club” that favors friends. The academy, which has accused Dugan of misconduct, has said it has launched an investigation.

The personnel allegations had largely overshadowed Dugan’s charges about the integrity of the Grammys’ awards process — a huge problem given that its annual ceremony is set to be televised on CBS in three days.

“The system should be transparent and there are incidents of conflicts of interest that taint the results,” Dugan said on ABC.

Her complaint charged that a “secret committee” that decides who gets Grammy nominations contains people with business and personal relationships with artists, and that they push their favorites ahead. The Grammy membership generally selects 20 potential nominees in categories and internal committees whittle those lists down to the five or seven eventual nominees.

She charged that an artist who was ranked 18th out of 20 in the initial song of the year process last year got a nomination and the artist was actually on the committee that decided the nominees. The same artist, who Dugan did not identify, is represented professionally by someone on the Recording Academy board.

Dugan suggested the conflict was behind two notable snubs in the category, of songs performed by Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, although there has been some question about whether Grande had submitted her indelible hit, “Thank U, Next,” for the award.

Brandi Carlile, Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga were among the nominees for this award, which was won by “This is America,” performed by Childish Gambino.

In the category of jazz vocals, Dugan alleged that an artist nominated for an award participated in the nomination process. Again, she did not name the artist involved.

Overall, she said some 30 artists whose work was not chosen as a potential nominee by the Recording Academy membership were added to that list because they had personal or business relationships with people on the nomination committees or the Academy’s board.

Dugan also said that nominations were handed out to songs or albums because the producer of the annual awards show wanted them to be performed on the show.

Producer Ken Ehrlich did not answer a message seeking a response to Dugan’s allegations.

Despite her charges, Dugan said she’s watching Sunday because she worked very hard on the show and loves the artists who will be performing.

“I couldn’t say more positive things about all of the nominations and everyone that performs,” she said. “Oh, my God, I hate that I’m in this situation because I’d much rather be talking about the artists and their music.”

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