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Jussie Smollett Criminal Case Dropped!!! Mayor Calls It a 'Whitewash of Justice'

3/26/2019 10:45 AM PDT

10:45 AM PT -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel is very strongly hinting at corruption in the State's Attorney's Office, calling the decision to drop the charges against Smollett a "whitewash of justice."

The Mayor added, "From top to bottom, this is not on the level." He called for accountability from the prosecutors.

Emanuel was joined by Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson who said he didn't feel justice was served by letting Smollett off the hook.

What's more, Johnson said if Jussie was, in fact, innocent ... he should've taken his day in court, and not broker a backdoor deal in secrecy. Bigger picture -- Johnson feels the City of Chicago is still owed an apology, as he believes Jussie carried out a hoax.

10:15 AM PT -- FOX says, "Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed."

As for WHY they were dropped -- you'll recall State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case. She reportedly had asked cops to stand down at the behest of Tina Tchen -- Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff and a friend of Jussie's family. The conflict forced Foxx to bow out.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office tells us the decision to drop all charges against Jussie was made by Joseph Magats -- the First Assistant State's Attorney -- who was placed in charge of the case after Foxx's recusal, and NOT by Foxx. 

It's still odd. Sources tell TMZ the prosecutor in the case, as late as Friday afternoon, was making plans to handle issues involving cameras in the courtroom for the trial ... and seemed completely unaware of plans to drop the case.

9:22 AM PT -- Jussie and his lawyer, Patricia Holmes, just addressed the media, and the takeaway message was simple ... he's happy and wants to get on with his life. Holmes reiterated this was not a deal Jussie struck with prosecutors -- instead, they dropped the charges on their own, and he forfeited his bond voluntarily ... it wasn't a tit-for-tat situation.

Jussie thanked everyone who supported him through this case, and maintained he'd been truthful and consistent throughout the case. He added ... that he would never put the LGBTQ movement "through a fire like this." He also thanked his "Empire" cast members for their support.

If you're wondering if things will really get back to normal for Jussie -- he stopped to take a few selfies with fans on his way out of court.

And there's this ... federal law enforcement sources tell us Jussie is still under investigation for the threatening letter -- with racist and homophobic slurs -- that was sent to him at the "Empire" studio 8 days before the alleged attack.

You'll recall ... the Chicago PD Superintendent claimed Jussie sent it to himself, but our sources say the FBI had not reached that conclusion yet.

8:45 AM PT -- Jussie's family has also released a statement celebrating the news. They state, "This morning truth has prevailed and (Jussie) has been vindicated."

They continue, "While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice."

8:35 AM PT -- State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office says, "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."

The statement is consistent with what our sources said about Jussie only getting community service if he'd been convicted. The decision is NOT sitting well with Chicago PD.

On the other hand, Jussie's co-workers on "Empire" are celebrating on Twitter.

Jussie Smollett will not be prosecuted for allegedly faking a racial attack, because all charges have been dropped!!!

Jussie and his lawyers ran to court Tuesday morning in Chicago, where he was facing 16 felony counts of lying to police in the alleged racial and homophobic attack.  

Jussie will surrender his $10,000 bond. But, that's it. The case is over.

We're told the State's Attorney, Kim Foxx, told Chicago police she was dropping the case because Jussie would have only gotten community service if convicted and she said he has already performed community service so there is no point in prosecuting him. We could not find any record of Smollett doing community service.

We're told Chicago police are "furious" and feel something untoward is going on with Kim Foxx.   

Click here... it's not over yet

Report: Conor McGregor Arrested In Jan. for Alleged Rape ... In Ireland Hotel

3/26/2019 12:17 PM PDT
Breaking News

Conor McGregor was arrested in January as part of a sexual assault investigation stemming from an alleged incident in December at a hotel in Dublin, Ireland ... this according to The NY Times

McGregor was released from custody and has NOT been charged with a crime, according to the report. However, The NY Times says officials are still investigating the case. 

Local media in Ireland have been covering the situation for months but without naming McGregor as the suspect because of laws that prevent news outlets from naming rape suspects unless they have been convicted. 

The accuser is a woman in her 20s who claims she had been hanging with friends in South Dublin before ending up at the Beacon Hotel on Dec. 10. 

After the alleged sexual assault, the woman went to police and filed a report -- and was then taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated in the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, according to local reports. 

Unclear if a rape kit was administered but it seems to be the standard operating procedure for women who are treated in this particular unit. 

According to local reports, cops tried to obtain surveillance footage to see if they could place McGregor at the hotel at the time of the alleged incident. 

When approached by the media back in December, a police spokesperson said, "[Cops] are investigating an alleged sexual assault on a female which occurred in Dublin 2 in the early hours of this morning, Monday December 10th 2018."

"No arrests have been made and investigations are continuing."

So far, McGregor has not commented on the allegations. 

30-year-old Conor McGregor is no stranger to the law -- he was convicted of throwing a steel dolly at a UFC bus last year. 

He was also in an Irish court last month over a 2017 speeding incident

Jussie Smollett Allies Asked SA Kim Foxx to Intervene ... Leaked Texts, Emails Show

3/26/2019 12:09 PM PDT

Jussie Smollett had pals of his in the Cook County State's Attorney's ear early on in his case -- and, based on leaked correspondence, it looks like she acted on his behalf.

Texts and emails between State Attorney Kim Foxx and two Jussie allies -- one of which is reported to be a family member of his -- have been leaked, and they show that Foxx was asked to intervene in the case a few days after he'd reported the alleged attack to Chicago PD. It appears that she did exactly that ... and kept Jussie's camp in the loop. 

The initial correspondence started when Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, emailed Foxx to say that she was reaching out on behalf of Jussie's family to express "concerns" they had with how the investigation at that point was being handled.

Jussie had not been charged with a crime yet, but it's believed Chicago PD was already doubting his story and leaking info to the press pushing that narrative. 

Foxx responded to Tchen on Feb. 1, saying ... "Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to Reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get back to me shortly." 

The same day, an unnamed relative of Jussie's texted Foxx herself, as well, and Foxx said she was working on getting the case sent over to the FBI. The relative replied, "Omg this would a huge victory." Foxx then responded, "I make no guarantees, but I'm trying."

Later, Foxx recused herself from the case when Jussie became a suspect. And, of course, her office just announced Tuesday that it was dropping all of the charges against Jussie, after coming out strong with a 16-count indictment just weeks earlier. 

Her official reasoning for dropping the charges ... Jussie has done community service in the community, so we're good. Her office asked a judge to seal the case, and they obliged. Mayor Rahm Emanuel strongly hinted at corruption in the State's Attorney's Office.

The Chicago-Tribune first reported on the leaked texts and emails.

Anna Faris 'Sweet' Chris Gave Me a Heads-Up ... On Proposing to Katherine

3/26/2019 7:22 AM PDT

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt have so much respect for each other even after divorcing that he called her to let her know he'd be proposing to Katherine Schwarzenegger.

The actress made the revelation Monday on divorce attorney Laura Wasser's podcast, 'Divorce Sucks!' ... telling the Disso Queen Chris gave her a ring one day and bashfully said, "So, I’m going to ask Katherine to marry me. I just wanted to give you a heads-up."

Anna says she was ecstatic for her ex-hubby, reminding him that she's an ordained minister and could possibly marry them. We already knew Anna had floated that -- she told that story on her own podcast a couple months ago. Now, we know Chris reached out first.

But, check out Anna's description here of how she and Chris have navigated their lives post-divorce -- it's a great lesson in "conscious uncoupling" 101. 

Chris and Anna finalized their divorce back in October, and the settlement includes a 5-mile rule in terms of living arrangements for the next five years. 

They share one child together, young Jack

Motley Crue & Netflix Sued I Got Electrocuted on Set of 'The Dirt'

3/26/2019 10:01 AM PDT

The crew member who was electrocuted on the set of Netflix's new Motley Crue movie is suing the band.

Louis DiVincenti just filed suit against the Crue and Netflix in Louisiana -- where filming for "The Dirt" took place, and where he suffered the electrocution. According to the suit, he says he was handing down metal pipes to other crew members, and one of the pipes made contact with a power line ... sending an electric current that "entered his body and blew out through his right foot."

DiVincenti says the March incident left him with third-degree burns on 50 percent of his body, and required a partial amputation on his foot ... as well as multiple surgeries and skin grafts.

In docs, obtained by TMZ, DiVincenti says Netflix and the producers -- which includes Tommy Lee and the rest of the band -- are on the hook for failing to address electrical hazards on set, and should be forced to pay for his suffering. 

We broke the story ... DiVincenti had to be carried off in a stretcher at the time of the incident. 

He's suing to get Netflix and Motley Crue to pay for the medical bills he's racked up, and for at least $1.8 million in damages.

Michael Avenatti Still Going After Nike After Arrest ... Names Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol

3/26/2019 7:25 AM PDT

Michael Avenatti is not lying low following his release from custody for allegedly extorting Nike -- instead, he's doubling down ... and throwing two huge basketball stars under the bus.

The lawyer just went on a Twitter attack against Nike, claiming the company has not been cooperating with a federal investigation into its Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) for over a year.

Avenatti adds ... "Unless you count lying in response to subpoenas and withholding documents as 'cooperating.' They are trying to divert attention from their own crimes."

The "divert attention" part is interesting -- Avenatti is implying his arrest Monday for allegedly trying to extort $20 million out of Nike in exchange for not announcing harmful allegations against the company is a distraction for its own crimes.

But then -- speaking of diverting attention -- Avenatti dropped a bombshell tweet accusing Nike of paying off 20-year-old PHX Suns star Deandre Ayton and his mom before he made it to the NBA. Ayton played college ball at the University of Arizona and was a highly recruited high school star before that. 

Avenatti wrote ... "Ask DeAndre Ayton and Nike about the cash payments to his mother and others. Nike’s attempt at diversion and cover-up will fail miserably once prosecutors realize they have been played by Nike and their lawyers at Boies. This reaches the highest levels of Nike."

And there's more ... he's also calling out star Univ. of Oregon center Bol Bol, saying he and his handlers received large sums of cash from the shoe co.

As we reported ... Avenatti was arrested Monday for an alleged extortion scheme prosecutors in NY say played out over the course of a few days last week. They claim Avenatti demanded payment from Nike to keep him quiet about allegedly paying families of some high school basketball players.

Avenatti is also facing more federal charges for bank and wire fraud in an unrelated case to the Nike one. The U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California claims Avenatti embezzled client money to cover expenses for his coffee corporation.

He was released Monday afternoon on $300k bond and held a press conference saying he's confident he'll be "fully exonerated."

NASA All-Female Spacewalk Screwed by Ill-Fitting Suits NASA Responds to Criticism

3/26/2019 9:56 AM PDT
Breaking News

9:53 AM PT -- NASA has just responded to the backlash, stating, "To clarify, we have more than 1 medium size spacesuit torso aboard, but to stay on schedule with @Space_Station upgrades, it's safer & faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits."

9:25 AM PT -- Hillary Clinton just weighed in on the situation, and her solution is pretty clear ... "Make another suit."

NASA's no better than your average department store -- lack of the right sizes in its women's department just screwed 2 astronauts out of making history with the first all-female spacewalk mission. 

Turns out the space geniuses don't have enough spacesuits to fit female astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain ... who were scheduled to make a repair to the International Space Station's solar panels on Friday. NASA says it only has one medium-sized space shirt, and it's going to Koch ... although it's kind of a hand-me-down. 

McClain used it last week during a spacewalk, which is when she discovered the bad fit. She originally planned to wear a large, but found the medium more to her liking. Since McClain wore it last, Koch is getting the nod this week.

NASA and all the astronauts agree the proper fit is critical to mission success ... still sucks to miss out on history. Perhaps worst of all, a man's taking McClain's place Friday.

Yes, even at around 220 miles above Earth ... there's a glass ceiling.

Note to President Trump: More fitting rooms for Space Force, please.

Originally Published --  6:58 AM PT

Kris Humphries Kim K Marriage 'Not Fake' ... Split Was Brutal

3/26/2019 7:53 AM PDT
Breaking News

Kris Humphries is opening up about the most famous 72-day marriage of all time -- saying his relationship with Kim Kardashian was 100% real ... and he was genuinely "embarrassed" when they broke up. 

The ex-NBA player spilled his guts about his coupling with Kim K in The Players' Tribune ... saying, "Look, I should have known what I was getting into."

Kris and Kim began dating in 2010 and got engaged in May 2011. They tied the knot August 20, 2011 ... and Kim filed for divorce on Oct. 31. 

"I was definitely naive about how much my life was going to change," Kris says ... "But the one thing that really bothers me is whenever people say that my marriage was fake."

"There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real."

Kris says "it sucked" when he realized the marriage wasn't working -- "It’s never easy to go through the embarrassment of something like that — with your friends, with your family."

"But when it plays out so publicly, in front of the world, it’s a whole other level. It was brutal."

Humphries -- now 34 years old and out of the NBA -- says he didn't know how to handle the negative attention stemming from his breakup ... admitting, "There was about a year where I was in a dark place."

Kris says he didn't want to leave his house and didn't even want to be known as Kris Humphries. Instead, Kris says he pretended to be Blake Griffin when he was out in public. 

He also reflects about how much it sucked to be booed and taunted in the wake of the split -- wondering if fans were after him because they thought he was a wannabe reality star ... or because they thought he disrespected the game of basketball. 

Humphries says he's not asking for pity -- and never really wanted to be famous -- claiming he's now trying to stay "under the radar" as he works on the next phase of his life. 

So, what is Kris planning to do next? He's already opened up several restaurants -- 10 Five Guys burger joints and with plans to open 7 CRISP & GREEN eateries. 

Michael Avenatti Indictment Casts Shadow On R. Kelly's Criminal Case

3/26/2019 7:10 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Michael Avenatti's new legal woes -- being accused of extortion and fraud -- could derail the case against R. Kelly ... that's what the singer's lawyer thinks.

R. Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, tells TMZ ... now that Avenatti has been charged with extortion as well as bank and tax fraud, his credibility is now a centerpiece in the singer's case -- specifically, the circumstances surrounding how prosecutors obtained a key piece of evidence.

That evidence, of course, is a sex tape that Cook County investigators claim shows R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl, who's alleged to be 14 years old. It's what many believe to be a smoking gun against R. Kelly ... and the catalyst that led to a 10-count indictment.

Greenberg says the issue of "chain of custody" -- how Cook County got hold of that tape via Avenatti -- is now questionable. Greenberg strongly suggests the possibility the tape could've been altered before it got to prosecutors. 

Sources connected to the case tell us that the man who handed the tape over to Avenatti is a whistle-blower who has a history of extorting R. Kelly. 

We're told the man recently confessed to prosecutors in Chicago that he squeezed about a million dollars out of R. Kelly's team in the past to stop the tape from going public. So, the question ... if the guy got the cash, how would Avenatti have gotten it?

Remember, there were supposedly TWO R. Kelly sex tapes that Avenatti turned over to Cook County officials, but Greenberg tells us he's only aware of one.

Either way, if Greenberg can create reasonable doubt in the jury's mind as to authenticity ... he could get R. Kelly off. Hey, we've seen it happen before.

Ariana Grande Press Sours on Sweetener Tour's Photo Policy

3/26/2019 6:53 AM PDT

Ariana Grande is acting like a tyrant on her new tour ... at least, according to media organizations that are fuming over her photography policy.

Several major news outlets -- including the AP, New York Times, LA Times and 12 others -- have joined the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) in protesting Ariana's photo policy on her current Sweetener World Tour.

The NPPA claims the tour contract she's making them sign to cover her concerts requires photographers to hand over all rights to their photos to her tour company, GrandAriTour, Inc. ... and they're only allowed to take still shots from a designated area during the first 3 songs.

If the photogs want to use their pics, they have to get written approval from Grande ... and even then, they can only use each photo once as part of a news story. 

The 16 media outlets believe this is a massive overreach and flies in the face of journalistic principles ... and the NPPA president is urging members to refuse to sign Ariana's photography agreement.

No word yet if the singer will change her tune.

Conor McGregor I'M RETIRING ... Dana White Believes Him

3/26/2019 5:48 AM PDT
Breaking News

Stop us if you've heard this one before ... Conor McGregor just tweeted that he's retiring from MMA forever. 

Yeah, just like he did in 2016.

It happened in the middle of the night ... McGregor tweeted: 

"Hey guys quick announcement, I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as 'Mixed Martial Art' today. I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!"

Is he serious? UFC honcho Dana White thinks so ... telling ESPN, "He has the money to retire and his whiskey is KILLIN it. It totally makes sense. If I was him I would retire too."

White added, "He's retiring from fighting. Not from working. The Whiskey will keep him busy and I'm sure he has other things he's working on."

"He has been so fun to watch!!! He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the octagon as he was in it."

The issue ... McGregor was on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" -- which aired Monday night -- and he told Fallon he was in active negotiations with the UFC to fight in July. 

So, what went sideways between the time he taped the show and his retirement tweet??

We're trying to figure it out ... 

McGregor has tweeted about retiring before ... back in April 2016, he wrote, "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya's later."

Of course, he didn't REALLY retire -- he went on to fight Nate Diaz (and won) a few months later.  

The difference between now and then -- Proper 12. 

Conor's Irish whiskey company is reportedly doing REALLY well. Conor and Dana White have said the UFC star is making a fortune off liquor sales. 

Of course, just a few days ago ... McGregor was telling fans how much he LOVES fighting and how he's got big fighting plans in his future ... including rematches with Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov

So, has Conor had a change of heart??? Or, is this all one big joke?

We'll find out ... 

Oh, and Khabib -- who beat Conor in October -- has also weighed in with a statement of his own. 

"There can be only one king in the jungle," Khabib said ... "Only one."

Giants CEO Larry Baer Suspended, Unpaid For Incident with Wife

3/26/2019 7:07 AM PDT
Breaking News

Major League Baseball has suspended San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer -- without pay -- until July 1, 2019 for stemming from a March 1 incident with his wife, TMZ Sports has learned.

He must also undergo counseling. 

MLB commish Rob Manfred says the unpaid suspension will be backdated to March 4, 2019 -- the  day Baer took a leave of absence from the team. 

"During the period of his suspension, Baer shall have no involvement in the operations of the Giants," Manfred says. 

"The Club shall be operated by an interim control person appointed by the ownership group in consultation with the Commissioner. Baer will be required to undergo an evaluation by an expert to determine an appropriate treatment and counseling plan."

Manfred says, "At my direction, the Department of Investigations conducted an investigation into the March 1, 2019 video-recorded incident involving Larry Baer. I also personally met with Mr. Baer."

"Based on my review of the results of the investigation, I have concluded that Mr. Baer’s conduct was unacceptable under MLB policies and warrants discipline."

"In determining the appropriate level of discipline, I find that Mr. Baer should be held to a higher standard because as a leader he is expected to be a role model for others in his organization and community."

"Based on my conversation with Mr. Baer, it is clear that he regrets what transpired and takes responsibility for his conduct."

TMZ Sports posted video showing Baer in a physical altercation with his wife in a public park -- ultimately knocking her to the ground in a struggle to pry a phone out of her hands. You can hear her screaming, "Oh my god. Help!"

Baer's wife has publicly supported Larry after the incident -- chalking the whole thing up to an ordinary marital spat. 

Larry has also issued a statement on the suspension ... saying, "I respect and accept the Commissioner's decision, and I respect and accept the Commissioner's decision, and appreciate the fair and thorough process undertaken by MLB and the Giants."

"I made a serious mistake that I sincerely regret and I am truly sorry for my actions. My unacceptable behavior fell well short of what must be demanded of every person, particularly someone in my position and role in the community."

"I will now immediately begin the significant work ahead of me to listen and learn from my mistakes and seek professional advice. I am committed to doing what it takes to earn the trust and respect of the many people impacted by my actions."

D.L. Hughley Dr. Dre's Daughter Should Be Grateful ... 70 MILLION Reasons Why

3/26/2019 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

D.L. Hughley is coming out swinging for Dr. Dre ... telling us Dre's daughter needs to appreciate the fact he "pushed" her to go to USC, and also that her dad can afford to LEGALLY grease the wheel for her. 

We got the comedian at LAX, and our photog asked him about Dre deleting his post throwing shade at Lori Loughlin and all the other parents swept up in the college admissions bribery scandal.

D.L. says the rap mogul shouldn't apologize for donating $70 million to the University -- and adds even IF that helped his daughter, Truly Young, get in ... it's the least USC can do!!!  

As for Truly saying her dad pushed her to attend SC ... D.L. says Dre's just being a good parent, and Truly has 70 million reasons to be grateful. 

D.L.'s an expert on the topic ... his daughter's also at USC, and he's hustling every day -- he was just getting back from a gig -- to pay her tuition. College ain't cheap, even when ya do it all legal and stuff.

You gotta see his take on Dre's fam as a whole -- D.L.'s got a feeling Truly won't be its last Trojan.

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