Jussie Smollett hits back at conspiracy theories after attack
Empire actor Jussie Smollett has hit back at “lies” spread online after he was attacked in Chicago last month.
Appearing on Good Morning America on Wednesday (February 14), Smollett spoke out about the misinformation that has circulated since he was assaulted in the early hours of January 29, telling the programme: “I’m p***ed off. It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks.”
Smollett was reportedly branded a “faggot Empire n****r” and had a noose tied around his neck by two men who shouted the pro-Trump acronym “MAGA,” which stands for “Make America Great Again.” Police have released CCTV stills of two people they are seeking to speak to in connection with the attack.
However, right-wing conspiracy theorists have attempted to discredit Smollett’s version of events, even accusing him of fabricating details incriminating Trump supporters.
Jussie Smollett conspiracy theory tweets ‘liked’ by Donald Trump Jr.
Several theories reached the the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who liked a tweet that reads: “I’m more inclined to believe that Hillary Clinton is the President of the United States, than the story that Jussie Smollett was attacked by Trump supporters.”
Another post liked by Trump Jr. reads: “If you believe [Jussie Smollett’s account] (…) you’re part of the problem.”
Jussie Smollett responds to claims he ‘made up’ the attack
In the interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, Smollett said he was “p***ed off.”
Addressing the criticism, the actor added: “At first it was, if I tell the truth, then that’s it, because it’s the truth. Then it became, how can you not believe that, it’s the truth. Then it became, oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, but you don’t even want to see the truth.”
Smollett added: “I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more.
“That says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”
The Chicago Police Department has made clear that Smollett has fully cooperated with officers, and that his account of events has been consistent.
Smollett continued: “For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing.
“I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a faggot, they called me a n****r. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
Jussie Smollett explains why he didn’t want to give his phone to police
Smollett also explained why he had declined to hand over his phone to police, a detail that has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists.
He said: “They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I’m sorry but I’m not gonna do that, because I have private pictures and videos and numbers.
“My partner’s number, my family’s number, my cast mates’ numbers, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.
“I don’t know what that’s gonna be, to hand over my phone for — and honestly, by then, inaccurate, false statements had already been put out there.”
Smollett said he believes the two men in the CCTV stills released by police are the men who attacked him.
He said: “For me, when that was released, I was like, OK, we’re getting somewhere. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. I never did.”