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Police say Jussie Smollett orchestrated his attack because he was ‘dissatisfied with his salary’

Washington Post Today

Chicago police say actor Jussie Smollett concocted the story of a brutal hate crime because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox drama “Empire.”

At a press briefing Thursday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett, who was arrested Thursday after turning himself in, paid two men $3,500 to help him stage the fake attack after a crude, threatening letter he sent to the “Empire” set in Chicago failed to get attention.

Johnson, a black Chicago native, said Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Johnson lamented the many resources Chicago police used on an investigation that lasted weeks. Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said detectives interviewed more than 100 individuals and utilized both police cameras and private sector cameras to plot a timeline of the alleged assault. The investigation eventually led them to the two men, who were arrested by police last week and later released without being charged. Johnson said police have a check that Smollett used to pay the men.

Smollett will appear in court for a bond hearing Thursday afternoon, authorities said, and he faces as many as three years in prison. Smollett’s attorneys have maintained he did not play a role in his attack.

 

In a matter of weeks, Smollett traveled the arc of a black and openly gay hate crime victim to potential criminal himself. The vivid details of his alleged Jan. 29 attack — a rope around his neck, an assailant’s chilling words of “this is MAGA country” — captured the attention of Democratic presidential hopefuls and celebrities as a tangible result of social decay and toxic political discourse.

As Smollett’s claims unraveled among inconsistencies and police gathered new evidence, conservatives blasted the incident as an example of a credulous media extending a narrative that Trump supporters have escalated his divisive rhetoric with acts of violence.

President Trump reacted to news of Smollett’s arrest on Twitter Thursday. “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA,” Trump wrote.

On Wednesday, Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, who are representing Smollett, wrote in a statement: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

President Trump reacted to news of Smollett’s arrest on Twitter Thursday. “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA,” Trump wrote.

On Wednesday, Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, who are representing Smollett, wrote in a statement: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

The news of the felony charge, announced by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, came just hours after the city’s police department said that the “Empire” actor was being treated as a suspect in the criminal investigation. Police said days ago that they wanted to speak with Smollett again after new evidence “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.  [READ MORE The Washington Post]


 

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