Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying to police

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to 16 counts of lying to police as it’s revealed his family enlisted Michelle Obama’s former aide to try to persuade Chicago prosecutors to hand his case over to the FBI HOURS after ‘hoax attack’

  • Smollett, 36, was flanked by body guards and some members of his family 
  • He wore sunglasses as he entered the court but said nothing to his fans 
  • Some chanted ‘Justice for Jussie’ as he strode into the courthouse in silence
  • A new judge was assigned before Smollett made his plea on 16 felony counts 
  • It has also emerged that in the hours after the attack, his famous family enlisted Tina Tchen to help them try to steer the investigation 
  • Tchen contacted State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx and asked her to get the Chicago PD to give the investigation to the police
  • They were worried about the amount of information that was being leaked to the press within hours of the incident
  • Foxx later recused herself over her contact with Tchen and some of Smollett’s relatives who she was texting and promising to keep updated  
  • The case did not go to the FBI in the end because there was not enough proof Smollett was a hate crime victim as he claimed  

Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about being attacked and will now stand trial. 

The 36-year-old actor will return to court in April and will be allowed to travel between New York City and Los Angeles to meet with lawyers. 

He was accompanied by some but not all of his family and said nothing as he strode quickly into the courthouse wearing a pair of sunglasses. 

He was searched by security before entering the courtroom. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 48 years behind bars. 

Smollett, who insists he is innocent, is accused of paying brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to attack him on January 29. They told police the actor wanted a raise on Empire, the Fox show in which he is one of the central characters. 

On Thursday, he spoke only to say ‘not guilty’ when his lawyer entered his plea on his behalf, joining in with her mid-sentence, and to answer ‘yes sir’ as Judge Steven Gregory Watkins told him he had to show up to every day of the trial.  

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Jussie Smollett is pictured in court on Thursday. The actor pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the January 29 attack authorities say was staged. Smollett embraced having cameras in the courtroom 

The actor was emotionless as he made his plea. His attorney Tina Glandian accompanied him

Smollett spoke only to the judge, addressing him as ‘sir’ and saying ‘not guilty’ as his lawyer entered his plea. He is shown above looking at his legal team as they agree on April 17 for his next court date 

After pleading not guilty on all counts, Smollett left the court with his family without making a statement. 

He was heckled on his way out of the courthouse as he got into a waiting car by someone shouting: ‘You f***d up! Lock him up!’  

On Thursday, Tina Glandian, one of his attorneys said they ‘welcomed’ the case being open to the public and media. 

‘We welcome cameras in the courtroom so the public and the media can see the evidence and we believe is a lack of evidence against Mr. Smollett and we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out,’ she said. 

The judge granted Smollett permission to travel to California and New York, where his legal team has offices, to meet with them but said he must notify pre-trial services 48 hours before and 24 hours after he returns from any trips. 

Glandian was accompanied by two other lawyers from Mark Geragos’ firm. Geragos is a celebrity favorite who has represented Chris Brown and Michael Jackson in the past. 

Smollett placed his sunglasses back on before leaving the courtroom 

The actor’s face was tense as he arrived in the courtroom in a suit and tie 

He has spoken publicly since Smollett’s indictment to claim he is the victim of a prejudiced media and police department.

The police department insists its investigation has been above board. 

Members of Smollett’s team told the media at the courthouse that his Empire co-star Terrence Howard had planned to attend the arraignment but that his flight was delayed arriving in Chicago. 

They said he would likely attend later sessions.  

As he left the courtroom, Smollett stopped to shake hands with an unidentified man waiting outside 

Smollett left the court with his bodyguard and family. His lawyer Tina Glandian used her briefcase to protect her hair from the rain as they made the short walk to a waiting car 

Smollett and his brother Jake leave the court with other members of their family behind them 

Smollett’s court appearance coincided with the revelation that his family contacted former Michelle Obama aide Tina Tchen to get in touch with State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx the day after the attack to tell her they had ‘concerns’ with how the police were handling it. 

They were worried, they said, about the amount of information that was being leaked to the media from the start of the investigation. 

Tchen persuaded her to try to pawn the case off to the FBI, according to text messages obtained by USA Today. 

Foxx said she was ‘trying’ and had spoken to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnston to try to ‘convince’ him to let the FBI take the lead on the investigation. 

She also exchanged text with one of Smollett’s relatives who replied: ‘Omg this would be a huge victory,’ when Foxx mentioned her efforts.  

The actor arrived in court in Chicago on Thursday to enter a plea on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. He put his hand on his heart as he walked past protesters shouting ‘Justice for Jussie!’ 

Smollett’s brothers Jake (far left in black sunglasses) and Jojo (front left in gray coat) joined him as did his sister-in-law Lala (front right) and other loved ones 

Smollett was joined by some of his siblings but not all of them. He wore sunglasses and a suit with a coat and was flanked by a bodyguard 

The actor was searched as he entered the courtroom on Thursday to enter a plea 

There were lines of fans outside the court who shouted ‘Justice for Jussie’ as he made his way inside 

Protesters outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Thursday to support Smollett 

Ultimately, the case did not move on to the FBI because there was not enough evidence that Smollett had been the victim of a hate crime as he claimed.

Foxx recused herself from the case after Smollett was arrested, saying at the time that her contact with a family member of his was a conflict of interest in the case. 

Tchen, who worked with the Obamas when they were in the White House, has not publicly commented on the case. 

Smollett did not initially want to involve the police on the night of the attack.

It was his friend, 60-year-old Frank Gatson, who insisted they call 911 after he arrived back at his apartment with a rope around his neck and bleach on his clothes, claiming to have been assaulted by two men who shouted: ‘This is MAGA country!’ as they beat him. 

The Smollett family enlisted the help of former Obama adviser Tina Tchen (seen above with the couple in the White House) to try to get the investigation taken over by the FBI 

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told the Smollett family she was ‘trying’ to convince the Chicago PD to let the FBI take over the case but it never happened. She recused herself later over the conflict of interest. On Thursday, trial judge Steven Gregory Watkins (right) was assigned to Smollett’s case 

It was 2am and he had gone out to get a salad from Subway.  

In the weeks that followed, Chicago PD sources gradually leaked information about the case to local media about how Smollett was refusing to hand over his phone records. 

As they combed through surveillance footage from the night of the attack, they honed in on the Osundairo brothers and tracked their ride share and taxi movements. 

They then arrested the pair on February 20 as they arrived back in Chicago from Nigeria. 

In the 47th hour of their 48 hour hold, the brothers confessed to the plot.

At around the same time, Smollett went on Good Morning America to plead his innocence and condemn the growing skepticism surrounding his case.  

Brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo told police Smollett paid them to not only train him athletically but to attack him in a fake hate crime 

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