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Smollett Showed Up in Obama White House Video

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

In Chicago we have a saying: We don't want nobody nobody sent.

But Jussie Smollett isn't a nobody, is he?

He's a somebody. And I've just seen an Obama White House video -- in which Smollett gets a big shoutout from then-President Barack Obama -- to prove it.


So, if it pleases the court, I'd like to have this video marked as "Exhibit A."

"Has everybody had a good time tonight?" Obama asked the audience at a 2016 White House event. "... Jussie Smollett!"

Smollett smiled and clapped, beaming with excitement. Who wouldn't be beaming after performing for the president and the first lady?

It was obvious that he was having a good time. Clearly, he was becoming somebody. A real Hollywood somebody, star of the TV show "Empire" with important connections.

Smollett became such a somebody that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office inexplicably cut him loose from criminal charges, dropping 16 grand jury counts against him for allegedly fabricating a racial hate crime and blaming it all on supporters of President Donald Trump.

Well, it's almost inexplicable. Foxx did admit she had inappropriate contact with the Smollett family and with Tina Tchen, a top lawyer and former chief of staff for Michelle Obama.

Foxx said she recused herself from the case because of the questionable contacts. But in reality, she hadn't.

And then she dropped the whole thing.

Hate crime? What hate crime?

Tuna sandwich? The one Smollett kept with him even after fighting those MAGA racists? What tuna sandwich?

What MAGA racists? Those bodybuilding brothers, the Osundairos? What Osundairos?

When Foxx mysteriously dropped all the charges, it smelled so badly that retired Illinois Appellate Judge Sheila O'Brien was compelled to petition the courts and ask for a special prosecutor.


O'Brien has asked Foxx to appear at a hearing Thursday before Judge LeRoy Martin Jr., chief of the Criminal Division.

It's all so theatrical, like a courtroom drama turgid with Chicago Way politics. That's why I'm offering this video to Judge Martin, if he wants it.

In February 2016, the Obama White House held a musical tribute to one of the great American artists in our history, the one and only Ray Charles.

Just type "White House tribute," "Obama" and "Ray Charles" into a YouTube search and you'll see.

Top entertainers performed that night. Big stars like Usher. So did Smollett, who was by no means a big star like the others, but somebody up there must have liked him.

It was a fantastic show. The president and the first lady were cool, singing and dancing and having fun. Finally, President Obama said the goodbyes.

If I were directing, I'd have had the White House press corps -- which loved Obama and still carries a torch for him -- sing a few songs of farewell too.

They'd do a great job singing that Celine Dion love song "My Heart Will Go On," from "Titanic."

They sang that one to him for eight years, and most are still singing it to this day, with tears.

But look, ah, here's the thing. Celine Dion is not Ray Charles. C'mon, man.

And on the night in question, in February 2016, as he was saying his farewells, President Obama had Ray Charles on his mind.


"Has everybody had a good time tonight?" Obama asks on the video. "Let's say, 'Thank you' to all our outstanding performers!

"Yolanda Adams! Leon Bridges! Demi Lovato! Anthony Hamilton! The great Sam Moore! Usher! Brittany Howard! I want to make sure I've got everybody here ... Andra Day! Can you give everybody a big round of applause for the band!"

But he'd skipped Smollett. And just then, Michelle Obama is standing next to her husband. She leans forward and whispers into his ear.

"The Band Perry! Jussie Smollett! Did I forget anybody? I got Sam Moore!"

You didn't forget anybody, Mr. President. And you got the important name on the record.

What does this video prove, if anything?

Oh, I'm no lawyer. I'm not a former appellate judge seeking answers to a strange case. And I'm not a state's attorney who'll never be anyone's wing man now.

But it is interesting. And it kinda, sorta answers the question: Where does Jussie Smollett's clout come from?

Judge O'Brien wants to know that, too, among other things.

"She is our lawyer. We are her clients. We should be able to rely upon our lawyer's word," O'Brien wrote in her petition. "To find that Foxx's clear statement of recusal was something other than a recusal would indicate that she was being less than truthful in her handling of the Smollett case and in her statements to the public."


Less than truthful? That's an understatement. Her pants are on fire.

Once word got out that Foxx had her private contacts with Michelle Obama's former chief of staff and others, Foxx's office kept saying she'd "recused" herself.

But when I asked Foxx if she'd really recused herself, her office said the state's attorney had meant it only in "the colloquial" sense.

In other words: Taxpayers sure are stupid, aren't they?

All this should be before Judge Martin on Thursday.

I hope he sees the video and notices the two excited people in the front row.

One was White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. And the other?

Tina Tchen, who would later contact Kim Foxx on Smollett's behalf.

They're smiling.

And they're not nobodies.

They're somebodies.

No further questions, your honor.

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