In a Thursday interview with NBC "Today" show host Savannah Guthrie, Jussie Smollett's lawyer claimed that Smollett was not required to either forfeit his bond or perform community service in order to get the charges against him dropped, but rather that he did so because "that's his character."
These claims directly contradicted a statement released by the Cook County prosecutor's office on Wednesday night, which explicitly stated that, "[t]he charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped."
What was the deal with prosecutors?
Tina Glandian, Smollett's attorney, sat down for a Thursday morning interview with a clearly skeptical Guthrie in which she attempted to protest her client's innocence of the charges that were initially filed against him before they were controversially dropped by the Cook County state attorney's office.
In the interview, Guthrie pressed Glandian on the deal Smollett struck with prosecutors that led to the controversial decision to drop all 16 felony counts against him. Prosecutors have claimed that Smollett's decision to forfeit his $10,000 bond and perform 18 hours of community service justified the decision to drop those charges, while critics (including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel) have protested that Smollett was not required to do nearly enough in light of the gravity of the charges filed against him.
However, Glandian claimed — directly contradicting the Cook County prosecutor's office's statement — that prosecutors did not require Smollett to either forfeit his bond or perform any community service at all as a condition of having the charges dropped.
In the interview, Guthrie asked Glandian, "The prosecutor's office says that the charges were dropped in exchange for your client's agreement to forfeit $10,000 that he had paid in a bond, and do community service. Were those conditions on his dismissal of charges?"
Glandian responded, "There were no conditions and obviously there was no plea. There was no agreement in place. They did want him to forfeit the bond and that's something that we discussed with him and he initially struggled with because he didn't want the perception to be that he had done anything wrong. But at the end of the day, forfeiting $10,000 versus putting your life on hold for a year was a small cost to pay."
Guthrie pressed Glandian, noting that prosecutors claimed that Smollett was required to do these things and had not gotten a "get out of jail free card." She asked Glandian point blank, "You're saying he chose to forfeit that bond essentially voluntarily?"
Glandian responded, "Yeah. I mean, well, they had asked if he would do that, and we advised him that he should do that, because it was going to cost him multiples of that number to go to trial."
Guthrie then asked Glandian if the community service was also completely voluntary on Smollett's part, asking, "Was [community service] a condition of the charges being released, he's gotta do this community service?"
Glandian was emphatic in response, "He had to do nothing. There was [sic] no obligations, no conditions, these are things that he chose to do because that's his character."
What about the Osundario brothers?
Guthrie also pressed Glandian on why the Osundairo brothers would have possibly attacked Smollett, given the apparent absence of any other motive, since they didn't steal anything from Smollett during the attack.
Glandian initially refused to concede that anyone can be certain that the Osundairo brothers were the ones who attacked Smollett, even though they have confessed to doing so.
But, she said, if it was the Osundairo brothers who attacked Smollett, her client does have a theory as to why they might have attacked Smollett, but it would only be "speculation."
Guthrie also questioned Glandian as to why Smollett initially told police that his attackers were white, asking Glandian, "According to the court records, Smollett was very clear with the police on the night of the attack that his attackers were white. He said they had masks on and gloves, but he saw their eyes and the skin surrounding their eyes. Was that a false statement?"
Glandian responded, "Well, just to be clear, he only saw one of the attackers. One of them he didn't see. It was through a ski mask — again, he could not see their body, everything was covered, and he had a full ski mask on except the area around the eyes. He did tell police that from what he saw, he thought it was pale skin, or... white or pale skin. And that was what, why he initially did have a hard time, um—"
Guthrie interjected, "Why did he say that? He could have said, 'I don't know?'"
Glandian lamely offered, "He could have, but again, he's being truthful—"
At this point, a clearly incredulous Guthrie asked, "But if it's the Osundairo brothers, what are the chances that's the case, that he saw somebody with light skin?"
Glandian offered at this point the theory that the brothers might used makeup to disguise their skin color and appear white, even saying, "Interestingly enough, there is a video [of the brothers]... in white face doing a joker monologue with white makeup on. So it's not implausible."
Guthrie concluded the interview by showing Glandian a clip of Jussie Smollett during his interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, in which he emotionally declared, "I understand how difficult it will be to find [my attackers], but we gotta. I still want to believe with everything that has happened that there's something called justice."
She then asked Glandian, "If [Jussie] is a victim of a crime, as he contends, will he encourage prosecutors to bring charges against the Osundairo brothers, and is he willing to testify?"
Glandian responded, "I think in light of what he's been through the last two months ... he's told me numerous times, 'I don't even care about what happened, I just want to move on.' I mean, what's happened after the fact ... what that attack was pales in comparison to the attack on him by the mayor, by the CPD, by the press, by the public—"
Guthrie interjected, "He would be vindicated if these two men were exposed as liars in a court of law, would he not?"
Glandian responded, "And we would want that, but what he's been through after the fact has been a much harsher attack than what he endured that night. This wasn't a very brutal attack. Obviously, it was frightening and something that he did not deserve but they didn't beat him so badly that, you know ... again, at this point, he has been victimized much more afterwards than by what happened that night."