Days after media leaks exposed him for allegedly faking a highly publicized hate crime that he said was explicitly carried out by Trump supporters near his apartment in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false report and disorderly conduct.
The charge came just hours after police confirmed that Smollett was a suspect in a criminal investigation, and that they were looking into whether Smollett may have paid two brothers who were initially questioned in the attack to fake the crime. The two brothers worked on the show 'Empire', and were initially identified as suspects in the attack before they were released.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, said he was walking home from Subway to his apartment in the 300 block of East North Water Street around 2 am last month when two men walked up to him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, declared “This is MAGA country,” before they started beating him and then wrapped a noose around his neck. They also - according to Smollett - called him "that f***** 'Empire' n****".
News reports that circulated earlier this week showed that Smollett pleaded guilty to providing false information to police before, during a 2007 DUI arrest.
According to the Chicago Tribune, attorneys for Smollett met with prosecutors on Wednesday before the charges were announced.
Attorneys for Smollett, 36, met with prosecutors and detectives Wednesday but it was unclear if the actor was present, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, could not be reached for comment. They have been joined by high-profile, Los Angeles-based lawyer Mark Geragos who has represented numerous celebrities, including pop star Michael Jackson, R&B singer Chris Brown and actress Winona Ryder.
And the Cook County States Attorney has already recused herself from the case out of what she said was an "abundance of caution."
Earlier Wednesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced she had recused herself from the case last week “out of an abundance of caution” because she spoke to one of Smollett's relatives after the alleged attack and acted as a go-between with police, one of Foxx’s aides told the Tribune. "State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident,” said Robert Foley, a senior adviser to Foxx. “Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision-making,” he said.
Shortly before news of the charges broke, this footage leaked to the media showing the two Nigerian-American brothers whom Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 to carry out the "attack" buying a red hat and masks.
Video leaked to media shows the Nigerian-American brothers buying a red hat & masks. Sources tell CBS Smollett paid them $3500 to fake the attack & they rehearsed it. Meanwhile @EmpireFOX says Smollett is still part of the set & show. https://t.co/CR3QaYe71u— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) February 21, 2019
According to media reports, Smollett is also suspected of sending a threatening letter to himself which was delivered on the set of his show, Empire, though police have said they're still looking into the issue. For what its worth, Fox, the network on which 'Empire' airs, has expressed its full support for Smollett and denied reports that his role on the show was being diminished.
Many powerful liberals and Democrats - including Nancy Pelosi - who decried the attack against Smollett and used it as a platform to label all Trump supporters as racists have already deleted their tweets.
For those who haven't, well, this would probably be a good time.