The nation shook after the Chicago Police Department announced that “Empire” star Jussie Smollett had been formally charged for his suspected role in a hate crime hoax.
Late last month, the openly gay black actor claimed he was attacked in Chicago by two white President Trump supporters who recognized him from “Empire,” shouted racist and anti-gay slurs at him, and yelled “This is MAGA country!” while physically assaulting him, pouring bleach on his head, and looping a rope around his neck.
His story became fuel for liberal celebrities and journalists as well as Democratic politicians frothing at the mouth to blame Trump and his supporters for such a hateful attack. Their rabid fervor simmered into uncomfortable uncertainty after Smollett’s story began to fall apart bit by bit.
And then when the charges landed on the anti-Trump’s actors head Wednesday evening, the blow was devastating.
The domino effect of evidence that had been threatening Smollett for days transformed into an earth-shattering cascade as Ola and Abel Osundairo, two Nigerian brothers who were extras on “Empire” and suspected of being Smollett’s “attackers,” gave more than two hours of testimony before a grand jury on Wednesday, the New York Times reported. In the end, the legal system had what it needed to formally charge Smollett.
The brother’s lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, remarked, “I think Jussie’s conscience is probably not letting him sleep at night, so he should probably unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened.”
But Smollett’s lawyers gave no indication that they’re ready for their client to do that.
In fact, but all appearances, he is throwing his friends and possible accomplices completely under the bus.
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” said Smollett’s lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson in a statement.
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity,” they continued.
In other words, they’re saying Smollett is completely innocent and was attacked, for whatever reason, by his friends in a very real assault.
Wow. Just, wow.
Pugh and Henderson did not explain why the Osundairos, who are black male models, would be screaming anti-black and anti-gay slurs and pro-Trump slogans at their client. Now did they explain how their client was able to fight off two bodybuilders while sustaining only minor injuries himself.
On top of all that, for allegedly agreeing to participate in Smollett’s hoax, for risking getting caught as they acted out the attack on the streets of Chicago, and for then getting betrayed by him, the brothers reportedly only received $3,500 on the night of the attack with a promised $500 after they returned from their trip to Nigeria.
“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," his lawyers reminded the public. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."