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Chicago Mayor Says City Will Send Smollett Bill for Investigation



Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city plans to send a bill to “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for the cost of the investigation into his report of an alleged hate crime attack earlier this year. 

Emanuel, who has bashed prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Smollett in exchange for community service and his $10,000 bond, told reporters Thursday he expects to ask Smollett and his legal team to write a check.

“The police are assembling the cost [of the investigation],” Emanuel said. “They’ll do that and then the corporation counsel of the city of Chicago will communicate to Jussie Smollett and his legal team about recouping that cost in that effort. And, given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section he can put the word, ‘I’m accountable’ for the hoax.”

“The finance is a piece of it and an acknowledgement that what he did at every level was wrong,” he added.

A representative for Smollett’s legal team said “it is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie – owe him an apology – for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough.” 

Emanuel also clapped back at President Donald Trump, who tweeted earlier Thursday that the case “is an embarrassment to our Nation!” 

“My recommendation to the president is go to Opening Day baseball. Sit on the sideline,” he said. “Stay out of this.”

“[Trump] created an environment that people think, like – I’m not done, I’m just getting started – that Jussie Smollett thinks that that hate-filled environment that the president created, pinning one American against another because of their background, then creates an environment he thought he could take an advantage of and create a hoax around a hate crime,” he added. “It is a vicious, toxic environment and cycle. I want to break it.” 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice will review the case, Trump claimed in his tweet Thursday. Both the FBI and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the case Thursday morning, according to NBC News. 

Smollett’s attorney said Thursday the actor simply wants to “move on,” claiming the aftermath of the alleged beating was “much harsher” than the attack itself.

“What that attack was pales in comparison to the attack on him by the mayor, by the CPD, by the press, by the public,” one of Smollett’s lawyers Tina Glandian said in an appearance on TODAY.

All criminal charges against Smollett were dropped Tuesday, nearly two months after the actor was accused of orchestrating a hate crime attack on himself. The surprise decision to dismiss the charges was celebrated by Smollett and his legal team and blasted by Chicago’s mayor and police department, who raised questions about the circumstances of the deal. 

In an appearance on TODAY Thursday, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said his legal team was “not at all” concerned about a potential FBI investigation into the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of charges.

“We have nothing to be concerned about because there was nothing on our end to request this, to do anything improper, and to my knowledge, nothing improper was done,” Glandian said.

The news that charges would be dismissed came during an “emergency court appearance” where prosecutors not only dropped the charges against Smollett but agreed to expunge the actor’s record. Prosecutors later said the charges were dismissed in exchange for Smollett’s forfeiture of his $10,000 bond and his performance of community service. 

Smollett pleaded not guilty to multiple disorderly conduct charges earlier this month. He was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report in February, with Chicago police alleging that he staged the attack the month before because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” A Cook County grand jury then indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts.

All Charges Dropped Against ‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett

[NATL] All Charges Dropped Against 'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment,” Smollett’s attorneys Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement. 

Smollett maintained his innocence, saying after court that he has been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.” 

Smollett reported the alleged attack to police on Jan. 29, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him, according to the indictment.

Initially investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, Chicago police said new information “shifted” their approach to the case, leading them to allege that Smollett orchestrated the assault by hiring two brothers who worked on “Empire” to execute it. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson hammered the decision to dismiss charges against him, saying they were unaware it was happening.

“At the end of the day it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period. If he wanted to clear his name the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence,” Johnson said. “I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts the place to do that is in court.” 

Visibly Angry Mayor on Smollett News: ‘Whitewash of Justice’

[CHI] Visibly Angry Mayor Calls Smollett News a 'Whitewash of Justice'

Emanuel called the decision a “whitewash of justice.”

“Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else,” he said. 

In a statement, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said the decision came “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago.”

“We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement read.

In an interview Wednesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended her office’s decision to drop charges and denied that she had any involvement after recusing herself from the case in February. 

“I did not want, as this investigation changed, for there to be any question about my impartiality so I removed myself,” she said, echoing earlier statements from her office that the decision to drop charges was not uncommon in disorderly conduct cases.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett Speaks After Charges Dropped

[NATL-CHI] WATCH: Jussie Smollett Speaks After Charges Dropped

“Over the course of the last two years, we’ve had 5,700 people go through our pretrial diversion process, people who have non-violent offenses and who have no violence in their background,” Foxx said. “And so I think when people see this one particular case it feels like an outlier where in fact, it’s consistent with how we treat people charged with similar offenses with the same background.”

Documents obtained earlier this month via Freedom of Information Act request showed that Foxx had asked Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI. The documents also showed correspondence between Foxx, an unknown person and Tina Tchen, a one-time assistant to former President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama.

“It was not unusual for me to talk to a victim in a case,” Foxx said. “At the time that I engaged with this family member, Mr. Smollett was a victim.”

Tchen said in a statement she knew members of the Smollett family from “prior work together” and that “as a family friend,” she contacted Foxx “to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”

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National Christmas Tree Lighting: How to Watch, Road Closures to Know




A D.C. holiday tradition is set for Thursday night. The National Christmas Tree outside the White House will be illuminated during a ceremony with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

Here’s everything you need to know, from the broadcast schedule to road closures to how (and when) to see the tree in person.

PHOTOS: White House Christmas Decorations UnveiledPHOTOS: White House Christmas Decorations Unveiled

If You Have Tickets

Tickets have already been distributed via a free lottery. If you were able to snap some up, be prepared for road closures and the usual rush hour traffic, so consider taking Metrorail (or a bus). The closest Metro stations are Farragut West and McPherson Square on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines.

You should also be prepared to go through security checkpoints, so make sure you allocate enough time to get through. Plan to be in your seat by 4:30 p.m., a National Parks spokesperson said. The show will begin at 5 p.m.

The tree lighting will be held on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. The Ellipse is also bordered by Constitution Avenue NW to the south, and 17th and 15th streets NW to the west and east.

Singer-songwriter Jessie James Decker is set to host.

How to Watch Without Tickets

If you haven’t already scored tickets, you’re out of luck. However, you’ll still be able to view the lighting ceremony on TV — you’ll just have to wait a few days. The ceremony will air twice Monday night, on REELZ at 8 p.m. and on Ovation at 9 p.m.

What to Know About Road Closures

As usual with major events in D.C., there will be road closures for the lighting ceremony. The following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from about 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday:

  • 17th Street between Pennsylvania and Independence avenues SW
  • C Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • D Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • E Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • F Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • G Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • New York Avenue between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • Constitution Avenue between 18th and 14th streets NW
  • 15th Street between H Street and Madison Drive NW (traffic will be allowed to flow south on 15th Street from Madison Drive)
  • Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • E Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • F Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • G Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • New York Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW

Several roads will be closed on Dec. 5, 2019, for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

Photo credit: News4

All street closures and listed times are subject to change, police warn.

In addition, the following streets will be posted as “Emergency No Parking” from about 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday:

  • 17th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues NW
  • Constitution Avenue between 18th and 14th streets NW
  • 15th Street between H Street and Constitution Avenue NW

Any vehicles parked in violation of the “no parking” signs will be ticketed and towed, D.C. police warn.

Drivers could encounter delays in the area and may want to consider alternative routes, police said. Drivers should also be careful due to increased pedestrian traffic in the area.

How to Visit the Pathway of Peace

Outdoor holiday displays will light up the White House Ellipse throughout the month.

The Pathway of Peace, the walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree, will feature 56 trees, representing each state and territory, plus the District of Columbia — all decorated with unique handmade ornaments. It will be free and open to the public starting Monday and continuing through New Year’s Day.

In addition, you’ll be able to catch free 30-minute music and dance performances on the Ellipse stage from Dec. 11 to 22, excluding Dec. 16.

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Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ Turns 25 With Broadway Musical, Tour




Alanis Morissette’s breakthrough album “Jagged Little Pill” is celebrating its 25th birthday on Broadway.

The rock musical, set to open Thursday night at Broadhurst Theatre, features the Canadian singer’s most iconic hits, including “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket,” plus two new songs she wrote for the show. Morissette’s powerful lyrics highlight a suburban family’s struggle with addiction, gender and sex as they harbor secrets while trying to maintain a perfect image. 

The show was written by Diablo Cody and directed by Diane Paulus. It stars actors Elizabeth Stanley, Derek Klena, Lauren Patten, Sean Allan Krill, Celia Gooding and Kathryn Gallagher.

Morissette is also hitting the road in 2020 with singer Liz Phair and rock band Garbage to commemorate the album’s anniversary.

See This Year’s White House Christmas Decorations

[NATL] See This Year's White House Christmas Decorations

“Going on tour next summer with special guests @garbage and @PhizLair to celebrate 25 years of jagged little pill and the last 25 years of music,” she said Wednesday on Twitter.

The 31-stop tour starts in June on the west coast, stopping at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, before heading south, up the east coast and back around to the Midwest. It ends in Nashville on July 25. Tickets go on sale on Dec. 13. 

“Jagged Little Pill” was released in 1995 to worldwide acclaim. It topped the charts in 13 countries and won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Rock Song for “You Oughta Know.”

Morissette’s next album, “Such Pretty Forks in the Road,” is set to be released in May.

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Rapper Rich Brian Gets Vulnerable About His Asian Identity, Immigration Story




Rapper Rich Brian is a child of the internet.

The Indonesian-born rapper taught himself English through YouTube, mastered dry web humor on Twitter, and discovered the alluring art of hip-hop while in front of his computer screen, NBC News reported. But perhaps most significantly, the internet prompted his fascination with American culture — a world, he says, he felt drawn to and virtually connected with as he spent a large chunk of his teen years immersed in all things American.

Roughly two years after moving stateside, the artist just concluded “The Sailor” tour Monday to promote his sophomore album of the same name. The new music is steeped in the weighty themes of Asian identity and the immigrant experience and is, in part, his assessment of his own journey to America. It’s also an ode to those who came before him.

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