A day after Chicago prosecutors shockingly cleared Empire actor Jussie Smollett of charges for allegedly orchestrating a hate crime attack on himself, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin confronted his lawyer Tina Glandian over the “ridiculous stunt.”
Appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 Wednesday night, Glandian contended that the dropping of charges against Smollett signaled that he was not guilty of what police had accused him of—though even the Chicago prosecutor who made the decision to dismiss charges has said the move does not exonerate him.
Following their decision to drop the charges against Smollett and wipe his record clean, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has come under heavy fire. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it a “whitewash of justice” while Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said “this is not on the level.” State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, meanwhile, defended the prosecutor’s actions, saying there was only a “slim” chance Smollett would receive jail time.
Glandian insisted that the dropping of charges “wasn’t something that was negotiated” and the actor was never going to enter a plea as he maintains his innocence, adding that it “speaks volumes” that prosecutors dismissed the case two and a half weeks after handing down 16 charges.
Toobin bulldozed right over Glandian’s comments and asked point-blank: “Does your client plan to apologize to the actual victims of hate crimes who will now be disbelieved because of your client’s ridiculous stunt?”
“I completely disagree with your categorization this is a ridiculous stunt,” Glandian replied. “Again, he’s not been convicted of any crimes. It is unbelievable the amount of conviction in his guilt when prior to him ever stepping foot inside of the courthouse, and now the 16 counts were dismissed against him by the state attorney’s office, and such a high profile matter and the fact that people still call it—call this a ridiculous stunt is actually very offensive to me.”
She went on to say the only people who should apologize are the mayor and city of Chicago, claiming real victims of hate crimes may not come forward because they’re scared they’ll be charged with 16 counts themselves.
Toobin, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates then proceeded to grill the attorney over Smollett’s relationship with the two Osundairo brothers, who police have said were paid to fake the attack.
Referring to the one of the brothers more closely acquainted with Smollett, Cooper asked, “So, he knew this guy for a year and a half, they’d trained together, they’d socialized together. If this guy is punching him in the face and saying things to him, how is it possible he could not recognize this guy?”
“The attackers were wearing ski masks,” Glandian said, adding that “the excitement of the moment” could have also made it harder for Smollett to identify the men.