“I come really really hard against 45.”
Actor Jussie Smollett blamed President Donald Trump on Thursday for what police are investigating as a “hate crime” attack against him last month, as well as for the blowback he has received from skeptics.
In his first interview since the Jan. 29 incident, Smollett told “Good Morning America” that he was “pissed off” by the “attackers” as well as by the “attacks” on his credibility. He blamed President Donald Trump for both.
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“I come really really hard against 45. I come really really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue. I can only go off of their words,” he said, referring to the “MAGA” slogan and slurs he said his attackers shouted.
Host Robin Roberts then showed Smollett footage of Trump on Jan. 31 condemning the attack and telling reporters: “I think it’s horrible. It doesn’t get worse as far as I’m concerned.”
The actor was left without much to say, replying: “I saw it. I don’t know what to say to that. I appreciate him not brushing over it.”
During the ABC interview, Smollet – a 36-year-old black and gay star of Fox’s “Empire” TV series – gave his version of the evening in question. He said it started when he left his Chicago apartment for a late-night run for a Subway sandwich. While he was on the phone with his manager, Brandon Z, Moore, he said someone began shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.
He said a masked man subsequently attacked him, punching him in the face and yelling: “This is ‘MAGA’ country,” followed by the N-word. After fighting off the man and another assailant, Smollett said, he saw them run off.
Smollett recalled that his phone had fallen on the icy pavement and when he picked it up, he found Moore was still on the line and had heard the attack. The manager has publicly said the name.
As a result, Chicago Police requested Smollett’s cell phone records, which he partially provided. But police have said they “do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted.”
Smollett explained to Roberts that would not give up his phone “for three to four hours” because it contains “private pictures and videos, my partner’s numbers, my costars’ numbers.”
“I don’t know what that’s going to be to hand over my phone,” he added.
Smollett’s crisis manager Chris Bastardi has previously said that “Jussie is the victim here,” and that Smollett has from the beginning cooperated with police, who he claim find his account “consistent and credible.”
“We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice,” Bastardi said.
Only after the attack, Smollett said on “Good Morning America,” did he notice a rope was hanging around his neck, and he began screaming: ‘There’s a fucking rope around my neck!'”
Smollett said he waited about 30 minutes for police to respond, during which time he noted a bruise and rope burn on his neck. He said he smelled bleach and saw bleach stains on his sweatshirt, which he was still wearing when police arrived at his apartment.
“I kept the clothes on. I kept the rope [on] … I wanted them to see what this was,” he said.
Because the attackers wore masks, Smollett said, he could only describe the first assailant’s build to police. He also said he believes the attack may be related to a letter he receive on the “Empire” set that had a return address reading only “MAGA” in large red letters.
Smollett said he walked the responding officers through the attack, but asked them to turn their body cams off because he “didn’t want a big scene” with his neighbors. There was a camera nearby, but police said it was facing the wrong direction to have captured what happened.
Addressing those who have questioned his story – based in part on police’s failure to find evidence in hundreds of hours of reviewed surveillance footage or to identify suspects – Smollett suggested things would have been easier if his attackers were from a minority group.
“The camera facing north — how is that my issue?” he said. “I feel like if I had said it was a Muslim, a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would support me a lot more, and I feel like that’s an issue in our country right now.”
Smollett also expressed frustration about allegedly false accounts of what happened. Addressing some of the rumors, he denied being on a date at the time, having his ribs fractured, or saying the attackers wore “MAGA” hats.”
“I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said, repeating that he had been slurred during the altercation. “I don’t need to add a “MAGA” hat as a cherry on the racist sundae.”
He did not explain how he apparently retained possession of his hoagie.
When Roberts asked Smollett what he would do if his attackers were never found, he began to weep.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Let’s just hope that they are. Let’s not go there yet.”
He added: “I still want to believe with everything that’s happened that there’s something called justice.”
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Has No Issue At All
- Jussie Smollett appears on ABC’s “Good Morning American” on Feb. 14, 2019.: Screen grab from YouTube