Donald Trump has said the FBI and justice department will review Jussie Smollett’s “outrageous” case after charges alleging he staged a hate crime to boost his career were dropped.
The Empire star, who is gay, was accused of filing a false police report over claims he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago in January.
He said two men had attacked him on a street in the city, putting a noose around his neck while shouting slurs and pouring bleach over him.
Prosecutors accused him of paying two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, $3,500 (£2,658) to carry out the attack, but Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office later announced it was dropping all charges.
It said prior community service carried out by Smollett, and him forfeiting his $10,000 (£7,600) bond, was a just outcome, but the decision provoked a furious backlash from the city mayor and police force.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said that Smollett had “abused” the city of Chicago, adding that he wants to “get to the bottom” of what caused the charges to be dropped so abruptly.
Now, Mr Trump has announced that the case is to be reviewed by the FBI and department of justice, tweeting that it had become “an embarrassment to our nation”.
The president has had something of a stake in the case from the start, with the initial allegation made by Smollett claiming that his attackers were supporters of President Trump.
He claimed that the two men had shouted “this is MAGA (Make America Great Again) country” when they targeted him.
Once the case took its first twist and Smollett was accused of staging the attack, the president directed an angry tweet towards him, saying he had insulted “tens of millions of people” with his “racist and dangerous comments”.
Smollett has maintained that he is innocent and denies the charges made against him, insisting he had been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one”.
He initially earned widespread sympathy from celebrities and some Democratic presidential candidates over his account of the alleged assault.
His lawyers have said he hopes to move on with his acting career, but it is unclear whether he will return to Empire after being written out of the past two episodes of the most recent season.