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Is Jussie Smollett Faking His Attack? New Details About The Claim That He Set The 'Hate Crime' Up

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Is Jussie Smollett Faking His Attack? New Details About The Claim That He Set The 'Hate Crime' Up

Update: Police say that Jussie Smollett is now a suspect in his report of a hate crime attack.

The world is still trying to figure out why happened to Jussie Smollet on the night of Jan. 29. The Empire actor reported that he was the victim of an attack that seemed to be motivated by races and homophobia. Police spent weeks searching for his assailants and finally took two men in for questioning in connection with the attack. 

But the arrest led to more questions and growing suspicions that the attack was staged — and Smollett himself may well be the person behind it all.

Is Jussie Smollett faking the attack? Read on for all the new details.

RELATED: Who Are Jussie Smollett's Attackers? New Details About The Men Arrested For The Attack On The 'Empire' Star

1. He claims the attack was real.

In the early hours of Jan. 29, Jussie Smollett was returning to his Chicago apartment after picking up food at a local Sunway sandwich shop. He says that he was close to his apartment when two men attacked him, hitting and kicking him, then tying a rope around his neck.
He reported that they yelled “'Empire' fa***t" and "'Empire' n***er” before dousing him with an unknown substance and leaving him injured in the snow. 

2. He was reluctant to call the police at first.

Smollett says that he returned to his apartment after the attack and a friend who was there urged him to call the police. Smollett was reluctant at first but eventually did contact authorities.
He made the report and was seen at an emergency room for his injuries, which included scrapes and bruises. At the time he refused to turn his phone over to police, which raised questions about what he might be trying to hide from authorities. He said he had nothing to hide.
“They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours," he said. "And I'm sorry but, I'm not going to do that because I have private pictures and videos and phone numbers, my partner's number, my family's numbers, my cast mates.” 

A post shared by Good Morning America (@goodmorningamerica) on Feb 14, 2019 at 5:03am PST

3. People were skeptical about his story.

Smollett’s story started to come under scrutiny in the days following the attack. Critics wondered why he had refused to allow the police to have their body camera on during his interview.
Neighbors voiced their skepticism about whether or not the events transpired as Smollett said and the fact that there were no witnesses. There was even a security camera in the area but none of the footage captured the attack or its aftermath. And while Smollett claimed to have been on the phone with his agent at the time the attack happened, phone records failed to prove that point. 

4. One of the men arrested was an extra on Empire.

On Feb. 14, police announced they had brought in two suspects for questioning in the matter. They picked up Nigerian-born brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo at O’Hare Airport after they returned from Nigeria.
One of the brothers had appeared as an extra on Empire, leading some to question whether they might have been known to Smollett before the crime and if he might have asked them to participate in a fake attack.

5. He gave an emotional interview on Good Morning America.

On Feb. 14, ABC aired an emotional interview with Smollett, in which he addressed the story about the attack and the allegations that it was staged. The interview was recorded two days prior to when it ran — and two days prior to when the Osundairo brothers were questioned.
One of the things Smollett tried to make very clear as is that this was not the first time he has faced racial and homophobic abuse. He talked about receiving hate messages on social media and referred to a threatening letter that had been sent to him. The envelope contained a powdery substance that authorities now think was Tylenol.
Smollett described the letter as having  “a stick figure hanging from a tree with a gun pointing to it." The return address said in big red caps, "MAGA.”

6. Sources say the Chicago police do not believe Smollett's story.

On Feb. 16, anonymous sources inside the Chicago Police Department told CBS and CNN that they now believe Smollett’s story to be false.
The sources say that the brothers are cooperating fully with law enforcement on this matter. Their lawyer says they have provided the police with evidence that Smollett purchased the rope used in the alleged attack and that he paid them $3,500 to pretend to assault him. They were promised an additional $500 later.
The crew from Good Morning America is also reporting that they were unconvinced by Smollett’s interview and felt he acted strangely at the time. He had asked for the interview and specifically requested that Robin Roberts conduct it, citing their past relationship after she appeared on Empire. But the crew is saying that after the interview filmed, they felt that something was amiss.

7. Smollett has hired lawyers to represent him.

At this time Smollett has engaged criminal defense lawyers to represent him. Sources close to the police are suggesting that Smollett staged the attack because he didn’t feel that the threatening letter he had received was being taken seriously by law enforcement. Robin Roberts defended the choice to air the interview. 
“When I sat down with Jussie it was Tuesday night (February 12) in Chicago, at the time to give his first account, publicly give his first account of what he said happened. At that time, on Tuesday, police officers were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative. This was all before the interview aired on Thursday, and then we found out about the brothers.”
At this time, it is still unknown how this story will resolve. 
Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.