Police Sources Think Jussie Smollett Paid Men to Orchestrate Attack on Him

“When the time is right.”

Law enforcement sources told CNN Saturday that Chicago Police believe that “Empire” star Jussie Smollett orchestrated his own attack.

The two sources said that Smollett is believed to have paid two brothers to assault him, noting the existence of records showing the brothers purchasing a rope which was reportedly used in the attack.

Chicago Police said Saturday that new discoveries in the investigation into Smollett “could change the story entirely.” Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that newly discovered information has “shifted the trajectory,” ABC reported.

On Friday, news about the arrest and release of the two brothers in connection with the attack ignited media speculation. Gugliemi, pushing against the flurry of reports that followed, maintained that at that moment there was “no evidence to say that [the attack was] a hoax.” With an interesting parsing of words, he assured that “the alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”

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Police have treated the two Nigerian-American brothers, one of whom appeared as an extra on ABC’s “Empire,” as persons of interest and acknowledged that they are the two people caught on surveillance camera at the time and place of Smollett’s attack.

Early on Saturday, however, Defense attorney Gloria Schmidt, who represents the two siblings, told TMZ that the details her clients have shared with the police may have changed the case. It is not clear at this point whether these are the discoveries referenced to by Guglielmi. Schmidt didn’t allow her clients to speak to the press, saying that they have a story to tell “when the time is right.”

In a Wednesday raid on the brothers’ home, investigators confiscated, among other items, a bottle of bleach and a red hat.

According to Smollett’s account of the incident, two men had started harassing him in the early hours of Jan. 29. After shouting racial and homophobic epithets and “This is MAGA country!” the men started beating up the 36-year-old actor and singer, at one point pouring on him “an unknown chemical substance” (possibly bleach). TMZ reported that Smollett repeatedly claimed that his assailants were white.

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A number of reports Saturday said that Smollett is currently hiring a legal defense team. One widely spread report indicated that he might be tapping Michael Cohen’s criminal defense attorney Micahel Monico, based on an interview Monico gave on WGN’s “Roe Conn Show” Thursday.

“I’d like to get your thoughts [on] Jussie Smollett here, but we can’t get your thoughts on Jussie Smollett because [of] this big developing story today, and it turns out you’re the attorney for Jussie Smollett, too,” Conn said.

“Yes, at the moment, I am,” Monico replied.

Smollett’s representatives denied the report Saturday.

Why does this matter? Smollett’s original version of the incident, which he had recounted Thursday on “Good Morning America,” horrified the left — politicians, bloggers, and journalists alike — who viewed it as a microcosm of American life under the Trump presidency. At least in terms of the ease with which the media can whip up baseless “MAGA”-phobic panic, they were not wrong.

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