HC Wake-Up Call: Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report, Cohen Granted Delay in Reporting to Prison & Coast Guard Officer Plotted Terrorist Attack

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing a False Police Report

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report after allegedly staging an attack that the actor claimed to have suffered.

The Cook County state attorney’s office revealed Wednesday that it was charging Smollett with the felony, which, according to criminal statute, carries a penalty of one to three years in jail.

Smollett is set to appear in court Thursday afternoon, ABC 7 Chicago reported.

In a statement following the announcement, the actor’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said they intend to “mount an aggressive defense.”

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense,” the statement read.

Wednesday’s announcement came just hours after police said the actor was “a suspect in a criminal investigation … for filing a false police report,” The Huffington Post reports.

Smollett previously maintained that he was a victim of a racist and homophobic assault, after two men assaulted him in the early hours of January 29th, wrapping a rope around his neck while pouring bleach on him and shouting racist and homophobic slurs at him. The actor also claimed that his attackers said “this is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.

After the attack, police said they were investigating it as a possible hate crime.

But Smollett soon came under scrutiny after law enforcement authorities said sources came forward claiming that Smollett had paid the two men to stage the attack.

The two men, who are currently cooperating with police, claimed that Smollett paid them to buy the materials used in the attack, including the masks and the rope. In another development in the case, video of what appears to be two men, who are brothers, purchasing the items at a hardware store has been obtained by Chicago ABC station WLS.

Chicago police told ABC News that they have been holding conversations with Smollett’s attorneys, but are interested in re-interviewing the actor.

“We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

“It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows,” he added. “If you have information that's helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that's what we want to run by him.”

If Smollett, however, does not speak with police, Guglielmi said, “We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

Michael Cohen Granted Delay in Reporting to Prison

A federal judge Wednesday granted Michael Cohen’s request to delay the start of his three-year prison sentence, agreeing to a two-month delay for the former Trump personal attorney.

“Given Mr. Cohen’s recent surgery and his health and recovery needs,” U.S. Judge William Pauley agreed to grant an “extension of his reporting date for sixty (60) days, from March 6, 2019, to May 6, 2019.”

According to CNN, Cohen’s attorney, Michael Monico, said in a court filing that he required more time to heal from a recent medical procedure, adding that officials at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, one of the offices that charged Cohen, didn’t object to a “one-time 60-day” delay “in light of Mr. Cohen’s medical condition.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to six felonies related to his personal business dealings, and two felony campaign finance violations related to his role in arranging payments to silence two women that claimed to have had affairs with President Donald Trump, ABC News reports.

Cohen’s attorney also cited preparations for a hearing before three congressional committees as a reason for temporarily delaying his client’s sentencing.

“Mr. Cohen also anticipates being called to testify before three (3) Congressional committees at the end of the month,” the letter to the judge read.

The former Trump attorney’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee has been postponed three times, with different reasons.

But lawmakers are still interested in speaking with Cohen for their ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. While it is uncertain what Cohen would testify on, his spokesman, Lanny Davis, said in a letter to the House Oversight Committee that Cohen’s testimony would exclude any matters “under investigation,” CNN reports.

Davis has pledged, though, that Cohen will appear before the committees before reporting to prison.

Coast Guard Officer Plotted White Supremacist Terror Attack

A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, who self-identified as a white nationalist, was stockpiling weapons to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” federal prosecutors alleged in court filings this week.

Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, who was assigned to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., was arrested on February 15th on gun and drug charges. But prosecutors revealed in court filings that Hasson was planning a series of violent, racist attacks, with the charges being just the “tip of the proverbial iceberg,” The Huffington Post reports.

“The defendant is a domestic terrorist,” federal prosecutors wrote in the court filing, “bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”

The allegations were first reported by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

According to BuzzFeed News, Hasson, 49, was a longtime white supremacist who had stockpiled weapons and ammunition in the recent years, created a hit list and wrote a draft email to a neo-Nazi leader about his desire to create a white homeland.

“We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost,” Hasson wrote in the letter. “How long we can hold out there and prevent n*ggerization of the Northwest until whites wake up on their own or are forcibly made to make a decision whether to roll over and die or to stand up remains to be seen.”

Hasson wrote about establishing this ethno-state by provoking mass violence and promoting white supremacy.

“Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. No way to counteract without violence,” Hasson wrote in a June 2017 draft email obtained by prosecutors. “Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch.”

“I don’t know if there truly is a ‘conspiracy’ of ((((People)))) out to destroy me and mine, but there is an attack none the less,” he added in the draft email, using parentheses around the word “people” to signify Jews. Hasson spoke against Jews, Muslims, and white “traitors,” but spoke highly of Russia.

Prosecutors claimed that he drew inspiration from Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, HuffPost reports.

“From early 2017 through the date of his arrest, the defendant routinely perused portions of [Breivik’s manifesto] that instruct a prospective assailant to amass appropriate firearms, food, disguises, and survival supplies,” prosecutors wrote. “Consistent with the Breivik manifesto, the defendant performed thousands of visits to websites selling firearms and tactical gear.”

During a search of his apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland this month, authorities found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Authorities also discovered what appeared to be a hit list containing the names of 20 individuals, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), MSNBC host Chris Hayes and CNN’s Don Lemon.

Image via court records

On January 17th, Hasson spent several hours Google searching “most liberal senators,” “where do most senators live in dc,” “do senators have ss [secret service] protection”, “are supreme court justices protected,” “civil war if trump impeached,” and “social democrats usa,” Buzzfeed News reports.

Hasson is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

What to look out for...

A creative Girl Scout turned Somoas into Momoas, after “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa, and it’ll definitely make you crave some Girl Scout cookies.