Jussie Smollett took the stand on Monday and denied that he perpetrated a hate hoax by orchestrating the 2019 incident in which he claimed that he was attacked by Trump supporters on a bitterly cold Chicago night as well as dropping a bombshell on another controversial CNN personality.
During the actor’s testimony, Smollett divulged that he was tipped off by Don Lemon who texted him that police were skeptical of his account, yet another public relations problem for the network that just fired anchor Chris Cuomo after reports he abused his position to meddle in the sexual misconduct case against his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Smollett’s testimony that he was texted by Lemon was reported by multiple news outlets including Fox News which reported that he “testified that he received a text from Lemon, supposedly relaying information that the CPD didn’t believe Smollett’s account of what happened,” adding “Reps for CNN and Lemon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.”
Chicago Tribune criminal courts reporter Megan Crepeau tweeted that the text from Lemon was among the reasons why Smollett refused to turn his cellphone over to Chicago police.
He also says he declined to give his phone to CPD in part because earlier he’d gotten a text from Don Lemon “saying he’d gotten a text from CPD saying they don’t believe me.”
objections, then a sidebar.
— Megan Crepeau (@crepeau) December 6, 2021
The former star of the popular television series “Empire” is standing trial on charges that he lied to police in what was initially portrayed as a hate crime by many including now-Vice President Kamala Harris who called the incident an “attempted modern day lynching” in a January 2019 tweet, a reference to the rope that Smollett claimed was left dangling around his neck by the two masked assailants who were wearing red baseball caps.
Smollett also claimed that the two who roughed him up and poured bleach on him berated him with racial and anti-gay slurs, also saying that “This is MAGA country,” despite the alleged attack taking place in the heart of a deep blue city in frigid temperatures. Police quickly became skeptical of the account and later questioned two Nigerian brothers who fessed up that they had been paid to stage the whole thing.
During Monday’s testimony, Smollett denied that he had bankrolled the hoax, “saying he wrote the $3,500 check to Abimbola Osundairo for nutrition and training advice,” AP reported.
“He also said “absolutely not” when asked if he gave Osundairo and his brother $100 to pay for supplies for the fake attack,” and adamantly denied that he orchestrated the “attack” while on the stand, asserting “there was no hoax.”
Smollett also expressed distrust in law enforcement.
“I am a black man in America. I do not trust the police,” he said. “I am also a well-known figure at that time and I am an openly gay man,” the New York Post reported.
He claimed that he feared being attacked would damage his career. “I want to play a boxer, I want to play a superhero, I want to blow stuff up,” he testified. “The moment I got beat I became a f—-t who got his ass whooped.”
Lemon didn’t mention Smollett’s admission about the text during Monday’s edition of his show on CNN but he is close to the actor and has expressed his opinion that his friend had lied about the incident.
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