Smollett lawyers suggest he's being denied due process; conservative alleged attack victim speaks out

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Developing now, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

SMOLLETT'S LAWYERS BLAST CHICAGO POLICE FOR 'LAW ENFORCEMENT SPECTACLE': Jussie Smollett's legal team on Thursday criticized Chicago police for accusing him of staging a "phony attack" and suggested the "Empire" star is being denied due process ... In a statement obtained by Fox News, the 36-year-old Smollett's legal counsel said the nation "witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system." "The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election," his team continued. "Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference on Thursday that Smollett orchestrated the incident in late January, in which he claimed he was assaulted by two men. Smollett, authorities believe, wanted to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career." Smollett is accused of filing a false police report and has been charged with felony disorderly conduct. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted. Smollett has posted $100,000 bail and returned to the set of "Empire," Fox News has learned.


CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST RECOUNTS ALLEGED ASSAULT ON CAMPUS: A conservative activist whose alleged attack on the University of California-Berkeley was captured on video told Fox News' Sean Hannity that he feared for his safety ... "This person claimed we were promoting violence on campus and proceeded to take his aggression out on us,” Hayden Williams said in an interview on "Hannity" Thursday night. Williams sported a black eye after he was punched while assisting conservative group Turning Point USA recruit members. Williams, a representative for Leadership Institute, is not a member of Turning Point.

According to Williams, some students took offense to a sign at the recruitment table that read "Hate Crime Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims." (The sign referenced the Jussie Smollett case.) The group also had a sign that read “This is MAGA Country.” Police are searching for the man captured in the video. The university has condemned the violent act.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SAYS 200 TROOPS WILL REMAIN IN SYRIA: The Trump administration, which announced plans in December to pull out of Syria, announced on Thursday that it will keep 200 U.S. troops in the country for now ...  "A small peace keeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for period of time," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a one-sentence statement. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who had criticized Trump's decision to pull out of Syria, applauded the president's decision to leave a few hundred as part of an "international stabilizing force."

REPORT: 2020 DEM HOPEFULS WARREN AND HARRIS BACK REPARATIONS: Two leading Democratic presidential candidates -- U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts -- have reportedly said they support reparations for black Americans affected by slavery, reflecting a shift in the importance of race and identity issues within the party ...  The New York Times reported Thursday that Harris doubled down on her support for reparations after agreeing with a host on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club” that the race-conscious policy was necessary to address the legacies of slavery and discrimination in the United States. Warren told the Times in an interview she also supports reparations. Julian Castro, another Democrat running for president, has indicated that he would support reparations.

OSCARS SHOW WILL GO ON SUNDAY - EVEN WITHOUT A HOST: There's no host, no best popular film category and no awards relegated to commercial breaks. However, the 91st annual Academy Awards show will go on. While questions regarding the telecast appear to have been answered, debate remains as to who will win the coveted awards this season. Does “Black Panther” pounce? Will “Bohemian Rhapsody” rock? Might “The Favourite” be the favorite? Could “A Star Is Born” shine bright? Click here for some predictions on for the 2019 Oscars.


'THE HOLY VICTIM' - "'You can talk to me,’ says Don Lemon. 'Because there aren’t a lot of us out there.' Here’s the translation: 'Us,' means people who’ve been oppressed in the ways Jussie Smollett has. Lemon is letting you know that he’s in that group, too. Yes, he’s a highly paid news anchor with his own show. Yet, like Jussie Smollett, Don Lemon is a holy victim. But who’s really the victim here? ... An entire group of people got slandered by this hoax. Regular people from outside the coastal cities. People with the wrong political beliefs and the wrong skin color." – Tucker Carlson, on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," reflecting on the potential ramifications of the Jussie Smollett case.

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The Fox News Rundown podcast: "Jussie Smollett Charged" - "Empire" star Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report after claiming to have been a victim of a hate crime on the streets of Chicago. Fox News Radio's Jeff Monosso and Dr. Marc Feldman, distinguished fellow of American Psychiatric Association, join the podcast to discuss the case. The war-time heroism of a World War II U.S. Air Force crew continues to be recognized seven decades after they lost their lives to save a group of children. Tony Foulds, who says his life was spared that day in 1944, reflects on the heroes. Don't miss the good news with Fox News' Tonya J. Powers. Plus, commentary by Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday."

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The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Guests include: Adm. James G. Stavridis on the upcoming second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the latest update on the unrest in Venezuela. Geraldo Rivera, Ken Starr, Arthur Aidala and Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg, hosts of "Bernie & Sid in the Morning," sound off on the Smollett case, the latest in the Mueller investigation and the 2020 presidential race.

The Tom Shillue Show, 3 p.m. ET:  New York Post theater critic Michael Riedel and Fox News Radio reporter Michael Gunzelman join Tom Shillue to preview this weekend's Oscars.

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1997: Scientists in Scotland announce they succeeded in cloning an adult mammal, producing a lamb named "Dolly." (Dolly, however, would be put down after a short life marred by premature aging and disease.)
1980: The "Miracle on Ice" takes place in Lake Placid, N.Y., as the U.S. Olympic hockey team upsets the Soviets, 4-3. (The U.S. team would go on to win the gold medal versus Finland.)
1935: It becomes illegal for airplanes to fly over the White House.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Have a good day and weekend! We'll see you in your inbox first thing Monday morning.