Actor Jussie Smollett, facing six new counts that claim he falsely reported being attacked last January, is digging in for a battle.
During an interview at Los Angeles International Airport, Smollett told TMZ that his legal battles are “definitely frustrating.”
“It’s fight or die at this point,” he said, summing up his attitude.
Smollett was arraigned on Monday on six counts of disorderly conduct stemming from the case that began last January when Smollett, who is openly gay, claimed he was attacked in a racist and homophobic crime that he linked to President Donald Trump by claiming the attackers, who put a noose around his neck, shouted, “This is MAGA country!”
The story eventually unraveled, and Smollett was charged with filing a false report in a case that shook Chicago.
The criminal case against Smollett ended when prosecutor Kim Foxx’s office dropped charges against Smollett in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was brought in late last year to review the case, resulting in the indictments handed up earlier this month.
“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said in a statement, according to WBBM-TV.
On Sunday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Smollett needs to pay for what he has done.
“He needs to face the charges. He committed a crime, and he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we are going to continue to aggressively make him accountable for the wasted police resources that went into investigating what turned out to be a total hoax,” Lightfoot said, according to WBBM.
During the encounter at the Los Angeles airport, Smollett was asked whether he still claimed to be innocent.
“I don’t claim to be innocent; I am innocent,” Smollett said.
Smollett was also asked about the concept of double jeopardy, in which a person cannot be charged twice for the same crime. Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, who has used that argument to have the new charges dismissed based upon last year’s charges that were eventually dropped, said she believes “the system will eventually work.”
“The truth is the best defense,” Smollett said. “The truth, which they know nothing about.”
On Monday, Smollett pleaded not guilty to the six charges against him, according to ABC News. The next hearing in Smollett’s case is scheduled for March 18.
“He’s obviously frustrated to be dragged through this process again,” Glandian said after the hearing, according to Time.
“He’s strong, he’s resilient, he’ll get through this, but he’s frustrated,” she said.
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