Jussie Smollett continues his absurd victory lap, continuing to pretend he was attacked in earnest by two Nigerian acquaintances who were wearing whiteface, not as part of a plan of his own design. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has upped the ante on his rhetorical rampage against the actor, slapping him with a $130,000 bill for resources and time wasted in the investigation.
Smollett may think he got off scot-free, but the trap the city has set up for him is genius.
Per TMZ, Emanuel will "absolutely" pursue civil recourse to get the money if Smollett doesn't pay voluntarily. This would multiply the bill by a factor of three, for a result of $390,000. The bill puts Smollett in a massive bind.
Would Smollett, who has the audacity to publicly demand that Emanuel apologize to him, pay the bill or challenge it in court? Paying would constitute a public admission of guilt. But a trial in court would surely eliminate all ambiguity as to Smollett's involvement in his own attack. And the ambiguity is all that his few ardent defenders have left to go on.
A court case would subject the criminal records of the Smollett case, currently sealed, to subpoena. Given that the grand jury slammed Smollett with 16 felony counts from the get-go, it is very likely that a civil court would find Smollett culpable of the crime with the preponderance of the evidence. As TMZ notes, in the likely event that Smollett lost, the city could freeze his bank accounts and force him to pay the bill.
It's a lose-lose for Smollett no matter how you spin it and a testament to the strange but welcome courage of the aggrieved mayor willing to burn down the proverbial building on his way out of office.