Recent evidence indicates that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett orchestrated last month’s alleged attack against himself, according to multiple news outlets.
Law enforcement sources with knowledge of the Smollett investigation told CNN on Saturday that police believe that Smollett hired two men to stage the attack on him.
And considering the amount of attention Smollett’s original report received from liberal celebrities and top Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, the latest development could be more than a little embarrassing for the country’s liberal political and entertainment establishment.
The men, identified by ABC News as brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, were arrested on Wednesday as persons of interest in the investigation into Smollett’s claim that he had been attacked on Jan. 29.
The Osundairos were released 48 hours later without being charged, due to Chicago law enforcement’s discovery of “new evidence,” CNN reported.
ABC News reported that Chicago police said they were “eager to speak to Jussie Smollett” after they released the Osundairos.
According to CBS News Chicago sources, the brothers told detectives that Smollett rehearsed the attack with them in the days leading up to Jan. 29.
Smollett reportedly told the Osundairos which items he wanted used in the assault and even paid for the rope used during the incident.
Smollett is reported to have paid the brothers $3,500 before they left for Nigeria later the same day of the incident. Smollett also promised them $500 more when they returned to the U.S, CBS reports.
Since the Osundairos were released from police custody they have been staying in an undisclosed location and are cooperating with the police, according to CBS.
The brothers’ information has changed the focus of the investigation, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement on Saturday.
Case Update: Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete. pic.twitter.com/Hswn1Qjgcy
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 16, 2019
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview,” Guglielmi said, as reported by CBS.
Police raided the Osundairos’ home on Wednesday, the same day the brothers were arrested after returning from Nigeria.
CBS reported that the police seized a seized a black face mask hat, an “Empire” script, phone receipts, and bleach from the brothers’ home.
On Jan. 29, Smollett reported to police that he had been attacked near his apartment in Chicago. His two attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him before they put a rope around his neck and poured a chemical on him.
ABC reported that police say that the Osundairos “have a relationship” with Smollett. Deadline reported that at least one of the Osundairos seems to have already known Smollett and worked with him on “Empire.”
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, said in a statement to ABC on Saturday night that their client is angry over doubts about the legitimacy of the attack.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the statement reads.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement continued. “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.”
Smollett has previously expressed his anger over those who doubt his claims.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black (who attacked me), I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more, that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now,” Smollett said in an interview on “Good Morning America.”
While there’s still no way of knowing exactly what happened in the Smollett case, there’s no doubt that big-name liberals rushed to accept the original report of the attack unquestioningly.
In a Twitter post, before any investigation had a chance to take place, Booker said the Smollett attack was an “attempted modern-day lynching.
The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe.
To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
Pelosi called it “racist” and “homophobic” and an “affront to our humanity.”
The racist, homophobic attack on @JussieSmollett is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once & for all.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 30, 2019
According to his lawyers, Smollett will continue to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
But no matter how it plays out, the celebrities and major Democrats who leaped at the chance to pontificate about the Smollett attack report should have learned a lesson about the potential for embarrassing themselves.
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