“Felony criminal charges have been approved.”
Jussie Smollett was charged with a felony Wednesday for allegedly filing a false police report about being attacked by a racist supporter of President Donald Trump.
The charge of disorderly conduct was recommended by a Cook County Grand Jury and announced by the county’s state attorney general. Police spokesman Anthony Gugliemi tweeted that detectives would move to have Smollett surrender for arrest.
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Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Hours earlier, Chicago police made public that Smollett was officially a suspect in the case.
Also Wednesday, video leaked to the press showing two Nigerian-American brothers – who reportedly told police that Smollett paid them to stage the attack – buying a red hat and masks in Uptown Chicago. According to reports, the brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, said Smollett orchestrated the attack after a threatening letter he arranged to be sent to him on the “Empire” set failed to attract enough attention.
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
The brothers were also caught on security camera near the scene of the reported attack and later detained for questioning. But police have since released them and said they are cooperating with the investigation.
Smollett, 36, a black and gay star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show, reported to Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
Police investigated the incident as a “possible hate crime,” and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.
However, the skeptics have been increasingly validated by a steady leak of evidence suggesting that Smollett orchestrated the entire affair. Even erstwhile supporters of Smollett have started to back away.
Guglielmi told NBC News on Wednesday that the probe has demanded “considerable” resources. At one point, he said, the department had 12 detectives scouring surveillance videos for evidence.
Smollett’s representatives have continued to insist that he was attacked. His lawyers complained Saturday that reports suggesting other have “further victimized” their client.
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In his only interview about the incident, on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, Smollett claimed he had been persecuted not just by his attackers, but by American culture more broadly. He said he was “pissed off” vaguely blamed Trump, even though, as host Robin Roberts pointed out, the president had condemned the attack.
“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.
Journalist Andy Ngo this week tweeted dozens of examples of recent hate crime hoaxes that prove Smollett would be far from the first person to make up a pro-Trump attack.
“When I was looking into hate crime hoaxes that have happened in the past couple of years, they mostly centered around right after the election, where there was this panic – many instances of people making up attacks blamed on white Trump supporters,” Ngo told US talkRadio on Monday. “I hope this story with Mr. Smollett will lead to a pivot in our culture where we start to really embrace caution and skepticism again.”
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