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Jussie Smollett Put in 2 Days Community Service With Rainbow PUSH Coalition

3/26/2019 1:52 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

Jussie Smollett logged a total of 18 hours of community service over 2 days -- with Jesse Jackson's organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition -- and that was enough to satisfy prosecutors in Chicago. 

Honchos at Rainbow PUSH -- a civil and human rights organization -- tell us, Jussie volunteered for the first time Saturday, putting in 8 hours from 10 AM  to 6 PM. He just completed another 10 hours on Monday. 

We're told Jussie's "service" included stuffing membership envelopes, working in the group's bookstore to sell merchandise ... and critiquing its Saturday broadcast. We're told he helped them with camera angles, and also worked with the music director on a plan to build the choir.

A Rainbow PUSH rep says it was their decision, not Jussie's, to keep his work with them under wraps. The rep added that they viewed his efforts as volunteering, not community service. Point being ... Jussie never mentioned his deal with prosecutors. Remember, the prosecutor's office says it was in discussions with Smollett's camp for weeks about dropping the charges. 

Another group, the Black AIDS Institute, wrote a letter in support of Jussie.

We're told he planned and hosted a December gala for the group -- which is based in L.A. -- but we're told he hasn't done any work with them since his arrest. So, the letter speaks more to his character than any Chicago community service.

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.

On the heels of all the charges being dropped against Jussie earlier Tuesday, the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago is asking the Dept. of Justice to investigate Kim Foxx and her involvement in this case.

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

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

3/26/2019 7:10 AM PDT

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.

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

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.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib I'm Not Buyin' What Barr's Sellin' Prove to Me Trump Didn't Collude

3/26/2019 12:30 AM PDT

Rep. Rashida Tlaib says President Trump is NOT off the hook in Robert Mueller's Russian collusion investigation ... because she clearly doesn't trust the man who summarized it.

We got the Democrat Congresswoman at Reagan National and raised the issue ... isn't it a good thing for the country if the Prez didn't collude with Putin and Co.? The Congresswoman recoiled and made it clear ... she's not convinced Trump's clean, given all we know is what his hired gun, Attorney General William Barr, said in his letter

Barr did quote Mueller's conclusion on the issue of collusion ... "[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

The unconvinced Tlaib says the only way this "dark cloud" can be lifted is for the report to be released in full, without a cushion from a Trump ally. 

It's interesting -- Tlaib talks impeachment with us here too ... saying Trump's misdeeds go well beyond the Russians.

Woodstock Co-Creator Tells Purists to Quit Bitching!!! ... About Modern Lineup

3/26/2019 12:20 AM PDT

Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper and Common are gonna attract a new generation to Woodstock 50 and anyone who's not down with that better get the hell over it ... STAT!!!

Michael Lang -- the co-creator of Woodstock's 50th anniversary festival -- tells TMZ ... he heard about the backlash the festival has received in response to the lineup it released last week. Fans bitched it's too pop and modern, with artists like Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey.

The backlash was intense. One person tweeted, "The Woodstock 50 lineup looks like it was curated by someone who's only exposure to music has been through the Grammy's 'Best Rock Performance' category between 2010-2013."

But, check out the video ... Michael makes it crystal clear the lineup is an homage to the original 1969 festival ... where more than 400,000 spectators gathered in the Catskill Mountains united by their love for great music and disdain for the Vietnam War.

Michael says he's hoping to get a younger audience engaged in social discourse -- just like his generation once did -- and in the process, introduce Woodstock to a whole new generation.

So, while there will be familiar acts for the veterans -- like Santana and Dead & Company -- Michael's adamant Woodstock will benefit from an eclectic lineup.

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It's time #Woodstock50☮️♥️🎵

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Jeanine Pirro, FOX News Big W Over DeRay Mckesson ... Defamation Suit Dismissed

3/25/2019 3:08 PM PDT

3/26 7:40 AM PT -- DeRay's response to the decision is a pretty pointed shot at Jeanine. He tellsTMZ, "I'm obviously disappointed, but as FOX argued and the judge recognized ... when you have a certain reputation, less is expected of you."

Black Lives Matter leader DeRay Mckesson is coming up short in his legal battle against Jeanine Pirro -- his defamation lawsuit has been tossed out of court.

The judge dismissed the case, according to docs filed Thursday in NY state, saying most of the statements Pirro made about Mckesson during a "FOX & Friends" appearance were her opinion ... and therefore protected by the First Amendment.

You'll recall ... DeRay sued Pirro and FOX News over comments she made back in 2017 when she essentially blamed him for inciting violence during a Baton Rouge protest. A police officer was injured during the incident, and Jeanine felt DeRay should've been held responsible for that.

The judge didn't exactly paint a flattering picture of Pirro's commentary, saying ... "Pirro's lack of temperament and caustic commentary is what she is known, celebrated, and frequently criticized for."

He added, while the court might not agree with or "condone her behavior or rhetoric" ... the law protects her expression of opinion.

NFL Head Coaches Pic ... Can You Spot The White Guy?!?

3/25/2019 3:23 PM PDT
Breaking News

No, this is not the new Republican party intern photo ... it's the NFL's annual head coaches pic -- and as you can tell, it's overflowing with diversity. 

IMPORTANT FACT -- Mike Tomlin is missing from the photo ... but so are 5 other white coaches. 

As you can probably tell, there is DEFINITELY not enough black representation in the head coaching ranks ... something the NFL has acknowledged. 

The league has the Rooney Rule -- which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for every available head coaching job ... but as you can see, it ain't always effective. 

The good news ... there seems to be a crop of talented, young black assistant coaches who are all making compelling cases for a head coaching gig in the near future, including guys like Kris Richard, Eric Bieniemy and Teryl Austin

... but for now, this is it. 

Rapper Sheck Wes No Charges For Attacking Ex-GF ... No Evidence It Ever Happened

3/25/2019 12:11 PM PDT

12:10 PM PT -- A rep for Skye tells TMZ, "A judge in the Superior Court of California granted a restraining order against Sheck Wes that is still in effect and the correlating case is still pending."

They continue, "However, it is unfortunate that the Los Angeles District Attorney decided to not pursue any further action at this time but that is often the case with many victims of domestic violence which is why incidents like this go unreported much of the time."Sheck Wes can ball out like Mo Bamba again ... he's off the hook in his physical abuse case. 

We've learned the "Mo Bamba" rapper won't face any charges for allegedly beating his ex-girlfriend last summer at the Montrose Hotel in West Hollywood. According to legal docs, obtained by TMZ, the L.A. County D.A.'s office is rejecting the case due to a lack of evidence. 

As we reported ... Sheck's ex, Justine Skye, put him on blast back in February, calling him pathetic and claiming he had a history of putting his hands on her. The model, actress and singer claimed Sheck once threw her phone across a hotel room at the Montrose, slapping her in the face with a wad of cash and berating her. 

Justine also claimed Sheck and his crew stalked her and attacked her friends

Right off the bat, Sheck vehemently denied abusing Justine or jumping her friends. Now it looks like he can put the case behind him.

Originally Published -- 10:48 AM PT

Soulja Boy Gucci is Racist!!! I'm Not Playing My Song

3/25/2019 9:18 AM PDT

Soulja Boy isn't wearing Gucci bandanas anymore, and he sure as hell ain't about to rap about them ... because he thinks the brand is "racist as f**k!!!"

The rapper is still raging mad over Gucci's blackface scandal -- and we got this video of him stopping his Sunday performance at the High Times Dope Cup in Adelanto, CA ripping the company a new one.  

Soulja starts rapping "Gucci Bandanna" before stopping the show and bashing Gucci over its disastrous decision to sell a sweater resembling blackface. SB doesn't hold back, calling the sweater "racist ass s**t" and telling Gucci to "suck my d**k!"

Young Drako is still on board with the Gucci boycott, and that's gotta suck for them ... because he says he's spent over $1 million on Gucci in the last 10 years!

Yeah, Soulja's days as a walking, talking Gucci billboard are over. For now.

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