President Donald Trump has weighed in on the latest developments over Jussie Smollett's claims that he was attacked by racist and homophobic Trump supporters, which are now under investigation for allegedly being false.
In a press conference on Thursday morning, Chicago police said Smollett paid brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to stage the attack. Now that the investigation against Smollett himself is underway, Trump says the actor "insulted" his supporters, by claiming Smollett's allegation is racist in and of itself (even though, the idea of "reverse racism" is questionable due to sheer power dynamics).
\u201c.@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA\u201d
Smollett turned himself into Chicago police Thursday morning and is scheduled for a bail hearing in the afternoon. As previously reported, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office has approved felony charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
Last month, Smollett reported to police that he was attacked in the early morning hours of January 29. He claimed two men attacked him on the street in Chicago near his home telling yelling, "This is MAGA country," referring to the president's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
Smollett said the men also slipped a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance onto him while calling him racial and homophobic slurs, which prompted a hate crime investigation by local law enforcement. At the time, the allegation spurred outcries of both support and skepticism, and President Trump was asked during a press conference about the matter. He responded that the attack was "horrible. It doesn't get worse as far as I'm concerned."
In the wake of noteworthy violent acts, Trump's language has been elusive, particularly when it comes to condemning acts of violence against marginalized people. Most notably, Trump made staid comments following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, before declaring people on "both sides" were in the wrong. It's also been noted that in some instances, Trump's used minimal language or has been silent in the face of some violent acts while stoking attitudes that could lead to violence in other areas.
Smollett has repeatedly maintained that he did not orchestrate his own attack. "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," his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Wednesday. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."