Smollett claimed he suffered an attack by two white men who used racist and homophobic slurs against him in Chicago.
He also claimed the men were saying, “This is MAGA [Make America Great Again] country” while they went after him.
He also said they tried to put a noose around his neck.
Smollett’s story immediately had some problems.
It changed over time and police were unable to confirm the attack through witnesses or surveillance videos.
They’re already talking about how @JussieSmollett can “redeem himself” and that he “shdnt be judged by this”…imagine reax if conservative had falsely accused liberal activists….
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) February 17, 2019
A representative for Smollett also claimed at one point that he heard the men attacking Smollett as it happened, as he was on a call with the actor.
But police had trouble proving that was real, too.
“Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault. The sources tell CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement,” tweeted CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz on Saturday evening.
CNN: Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The sources tell CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) February 16, 2019
This new report follows a previous one that suggested police were investigating Smollett and two men they believed Smollett had hired, potentially, to carry out the “attack.”
Also on Saturday, Fox 32 Chicago’s Rafer Weigel said police sources had told him that Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, two Nigerian brothers with connections to Smollett whom police had questioned, purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at an ACE hardware store.
Smollett allegedly requested the men buy the rope.
Smollett may have paid the men $3,500 before they recently flew to Nigeria, reported CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar.
The actor also allegedly promised them another $500 when they got back.
The men were extras on “Empire”; social media posts suggest they went to the same gym as Smollett did.
The Nigerian brothers, through their lawyer, had earlier denied any wrongdoing. “They had no idea what was going on, and they’ve been detained since then,” Gloria Schmidt said in a public statement.
She continued, “When they first learned about what happened to him, they were horrified. This is someone they know. This is someone they’ve worked with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that.”
Smollett appears to be sticking to his original story about the attack. “I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” the actor recently told Essence magazine.
“Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
The actor also recently told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he believes he was attacked because he’s been outspoken about President Donald Trump.
“I come really, really hard against 45. I come really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue,” he said.
Smollett also suggested people who question his story are racist — and would not be questioning a white man who said he was attacked.
Many liberal politicians and celebrities immediately shared their support for Smollett, no questions asked. And it’s unlikely they’ll apologize for that if it’s found definitively that he lied.
“The racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett is a horrific instance of the surging hostility toward minorities around the country. We must come together to eradicate all forms of bigotry and violence,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about the alleged attack.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called it an attempt at a “modern-day lynching.”
Actress Vivica A. Fox said of the alleged incident, in part, “I’m just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!!”
“Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels posted an emotional Instagram video in support of Smollett. He said in part: “You didn’t deserve … to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you … You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. It starts at home, yo. We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are … Hold your head up, Jussie,”
As for musician Ariana Grande, she wrote on Twitter, “What happened to Jussie makes me really f***ing sick to my stomach. I can’t believe s*** like this is really still happening every day …”
Other celebrities also seemed instantly ready to believe that two Trump supporters would carry out a senseless and horrible attack such as the one Smollett alleged. Check out more reactions below:
This is happening. NOW. In OUR country. https://t.co/C1Zxsx9Y9Q
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) January 29, 2019
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 29, 2019
I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live…
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
…whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie’s talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come.
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there. If you know who did this to @JussieSmollett, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) January 29, 2019
For more, check out the video below: