There may yet be more twists and turns to the case of Jussie Smollett, which has transfixed the nation ever since Smollett first dropped the bombshell claim that he was assaulted on a Chicago street in late January.
Charges filed against Smollett last month for allegedly fabricating the incident were dropped Tuesday, even though a state prosecutor said that officials believe Smollett staged the attack himself.
However, the dismissal does not mean Smollett has nothing hanging over his head.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have been investigating Smollett, according to ABC.
The focus of that investigation is a letter that was mailed to Smollett at the Chicago office used for the filming of the show “Empire,” in which Smollett has starred.
As noted by the New York Post’s Page Six, the letter said, “You will die black f-g” and had a stick figure drawing of a person hanging from a tree.
The envelope it came in had the letters “MAGA” written on it in red — a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.” The envelope also contained a white powder that turned out to be crushed aspirin, Page Six reported.
The two federal agencies have been investigating whether Smollett had a role in mailing the letter. ABC reported that the federal probe is not affected by the decision to drop local charges against Smollett.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is working closely with our law enforcement partners on this investigation. We are unable to provide any additional comment at this time,” the U.S. Postal Service said in a statement, according to Fox News.
The FBI declined to comment, according to ABC.
On Tuesday, Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained why mailing the letter could be a federal offense.
“If he mailed that threatening letter to himself by using the post office, he engaged in postal fraud. That’s five to 10 years in jail — that’s three times what he’s facing for filing a false report if the feds want to go there,” Napolitano said.
Hey @FBI @FBIChicago, so it’s ok to fake a chemical attack on yourself using the Postal Service? Jussie Smollett: letter containing white powder sent to ‘Empire’ set days before attack – CNN https://t.co/j14s7BpWne
— Terry Billingsley ?? (@TerrBill) March 26, 2019
Kevin Graham, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, has called for the FBI to get involved both to investigate the letter and concerns over the conduct of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who last month recused herself from the Smollett case, CNN reported.
— jenn richter (@jennrichter) March 27, 2019
CNN reported that texts from Foxx discuss making the investigation a federal one.
Joe Magats, first assistant state’s attorney who took over the case after Foxx recused herself, said Tuesday that there is no question in his mind that Smollett faked the attack.
“This was not an exoneration. To say that he was exonerated by us or anyone is not true,” Magats said, according to ABC. “We believe he did what he was charged with doing.”
.@ChicagosMayor on the Jussie Smollett case, “this looks like because he’s an actor, a person of influence, he got treated differently than anybody else.” https://t.co/BHjpbroTWb pic.twitter.com/1vCCkOh8gI
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 27, 2019
Magats also indicated that the case, which has caused a storm of criticism even in Chicago, was not pursued because his office’s focus is violent crime and the office did not consider Smollett violent.
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