On Friday night, two persons of interest in the Jussie Smollett case were released without charges, according to WLS-TV.
The men are Nigerian brothers, one of whom appeared on “Empire.” Both men were apparently cooperative with police. They’d been taken into custody at O’Hare Airport after returning from Nigeria; police had earlier conducted a raid on their home.
On Saturday, police said they were “eager” to speak with Smollett again and had been in touch with his attorneys as reports began to surface authorities believed the attack was staged.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the ‘Empire’ case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
“We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
In other words, that whole “This is MAGA country” story — Smollett’s claim that he was attacked by two apparent supporters of President Donald Trump — isn’t exactly holding up so well at the moment.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. As conservative actor James Woods reminded us on Twitter as events were breaking on Saturday night, Smollett’s animus against President Donald Trump was very well known.
Woods retweeted one of Smollett’s perorations on the president and, well, let’s just say it’s not going to help his case.
Warning: There’s plenty of bad language ahead, including racial slurs. Reader discretion is advised.
Uh huh… https://t.co/AkusO700Op
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 17, 2019
Smollett’s tweet was in response to a Jan. 11 tweet by the president which made his case for the wall.
The Democrats seem intent on having people and drugs pour into our country from the Southern Border, risking thousands of lives in the process. It is my duty to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. We must build a Great Wall, think Merit and end Lottery & Chain. USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
I’m not quite sure how Smollett’s response qualifies as a rebuttal, but whatever works for him, I suppose.
In fact, Smollett put forward his criticisms of the president as the reason he was attacked during an interview with “Good Morning America.”
“I come really, really hard against 45,” he said, referring to President Trump.
“I come really, really hard against his administration and I don’t hold my tongue.”
He also again implied that his attackers were inspired by the president.
“I can only go off of their words,” Smollett said. “Who says, ‘(bleep) ‘Empire,’ this MAGA country,’ (bleep) ties a noose around your neck and pours bleach on to you? And this is just a friendly fight?”
Well, we don’t know that, but the way things are trending, and given Smollett’s inconsistent stories, it probably wasn’t Trump fans.
Although I don’t know the political leanings of the two brothers who were questioned by Chicago police, WBBM-TV reported sources saying the men were paid $3,500 to orchestrate the attack on Smollett, which was rehearsed, and were to be paid $500 upon their return.
According to the same outlet, the two men also claim Smollett paid for the rope that was used in the attack.
How much stock to take in the story these gentlemen are telling is anyone’s guess. However, the narrative that this was some sort of Trump-based attack on an “Empire” cast member because he was black and gay and anti-Trump seems to be eroding by the hour.
What’s becoming more likely — although far from a foregone conclusion — is that Smollett, for whatever his own reasons may have been, orchestrated the attack and used it to further his animus against President Trump.
A battalion of liberal politicians and celebrities, also predisposed to hate the president, bought into the story from the get-go and amplified the message that Trump’s America™ was to blame. And then came the inconsistencies, and the raid, and the arrests, and now here we are.
Whatever the case may be, Smollett’s tweet didn’t age well.
But we can thank James Woods for bringing it to everyone’s attention again.