After he was faced with a question about the alleged Jussie Smollet hate crime hoax during his Wednesday night CNN town hall, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker pivoted to President Donald Trump.
The actor pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct earlier this month about his alleged role in faking a hate crime, but the charges against him were unexpectedly dropped Tuesday.
“Senator, I’m sure you’re aware of what’s going on in Chicago: the prosecutors just dropped all the charges against Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging a hate crime against himself in January,” moderator Don Lemon asked. “You originally said that it was a ‘modern day lynching’ before saying we needed more information. You know the mayor of Chicago states it was a hoax. He’s calling it a ‘whitewash of justice.’ Is that what happened here?”
As Lemon referenced, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges “a whitewash of justice,” during a Tuesday press conference. (RELATED: Chicago Mayor Says Charges Against Smollett Were Dropped ‘Because He’s An Actor’)
“I don’t know all the details in the prosecutor’s decision. I know that’s going to come out. But what we’ve got to know is this is happening in a larger context where hate crimes in this country are on a rise, where white supremacist violence is on the rise,” Booker answered. “If you look at the majority of terrorist attacks since 9/11, the majority of them have been done by homegrown right-wing supremacist groups and the majority of those have been white supremacist groups. So I know this issue is being discussed a lot. But why aren’t we discussing the rise in anti-Semitic acts, the rise in violence and Islamophobic acts, the rise in racism?”
“For Donald Trump to cut funding from the Justice Department to investigate, I mean he talks about terrorism all the time. But to cut funding to investigate these domestic terrorist groups, these white supremacist groups, is making us less safe,” he continued. “For him to fail even to condemn Nazis or even to talk about white supremacy as a problem in this country. To me, that is being complicit in the violence that is happening, and I find that unacceptable and repugnant. I will be a president that faces the threats to this country, including violence coming from right-wing extremist groups.”
Last month, when Smollett went from a victim to a suspect, Booker stated, “Well, the information is still coming out, and I’m going to withhold until all the information comes out.”
Similarly to Booker, Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, who also initially called the attack a ” modern-day lynching,” expressed her dismay to the charges against Smollett being dropped.