The curious case of Jussie Smollett is quickly becoming a political battleground.
Smollett sensationally had all charges against him dropped this week after being accused of faking a hate crime. But the sudden end to the case raised widespread speculation over what exactly happened behind the scenes that led to a deal with Cook County prosecutors. The “Empire” star claims he was attacked by two masked men who hurled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and placed a rope around his neck before yelling, “This is MAGA country!”
The shock decision to abruptly drop all charges caught the attention of President Trump, who tweeted: "FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!"
He doubled down on his criticism during a rally in Michigan Thursday night, telling the crowd Smollett is an: “embarrassment to our country.”
Now, the Congressional Black Caucus has pushed back against the president’s attacks, calling them “bizarre” and divisive.
"Yesterday, President Trump bizarrely called for a federal investigation into actor Jussie Smollett's case instead of focusing on his Administration’s attempt to strip Americans of their health care," Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said in a statement.
Rep. Bass then accused the president of being silent on more pressing issues, such as “the rise of white nationalism” and violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The President’s silence on the rise of white nationalism across the country only signals his complicity,” the statement read. “Where was the President's call for an investigation when white nationalists marched across the campus of University of Virginia and resulted in an anti-racist demonstrator losing her life?”
Bass added: “Instead of focusing on this case, the President should be demanding his Attorney General to release the full Mueller report to the American people. But in true Trump fashion, the President is attempting to distract and divide instead of demonstrating transparent and ethical leadership.”
The California Democrat’s comments came after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel went so far as to point the finger at President Trump amid the ongoing Smollett scandal.
Speaking to reporters, Emanuel said President Trump’s behavior is responsible for creating an environment where someone would allegedly fabricate such an attack.
“Let me be clear about something. The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is because of the environment, the toxic environment that Donald Trump created,” Emanuel said. “This is a president who drew a moral equivalency between people who are trying to perpetuate bigotry and those who are trying to fight bigotry."
Emanuel continued: "As somebody who has started his own journey in politics fighting the neo-Nazis in Skokie and then down to Marquette Park, President Trump should literally take his politics, move it aside. He's created a toxic environment and now he's created a toxic, vicious cycle in my view. The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could get away with this hoax about a hate crime is because of the environment President Trump created.”