CNN analyst and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa said that Jussie Smollett’s legal team should use President Trump’s tweet about the case as a defense for their client.
While Rangappa was a guest on “CNN Newsroom,” the host, Jim Sciutto asked, “The president getting involved in an active investigation. I mean … we could talk about how unprecedented that is, how damaging that is to the judicial system. That ship seems to have sailed,” Sciutto said. “In terms of the feds kind of swooping in here, coming to the rescue, and charging Smollett with something, is that realistic?”
Rangappa answered, “The president has 99 problems as they say, and I would think that Smollett isn’t one of them. But there could be a federal hook here. You know there was some reporting by CNN that early on the DEA had requested the FBI to come in and take over the case. And this can happen in a hate crime. At the jurisdictions request, the FBI and DOJ can come in.”
Rangappa continued, “If they were doing that and looking at that case from the get-go, and then it turns out to be a hoax, the FBI and DOJ have, I think, every basis to potentially look at charges like mail fraud or wire fraud. The problem with the president commenting on it is that if that is actually what’s happening, he is now helping the defense. Because if I were a defense lawyer, I would argue my client cannot get a fair trial. The president has tweeted out to 30 million people that he’s basically guilty.”
“Especially if the DOJ is looking at it,” Rangappa said. “I think that this should be something that the president should not comment on at all.”
The comment that Rangappa is referring to is Trump’s recent tweet regarding the Smollett case, which the president called an “embarrassment” to the nation.
FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2019
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