Jussie Smollett testifies in his own defense
Fox News correspondent Matt Finn reports from Chicago as disgraced actor takes the stand
Jussie Smollett took the witness stand on Monday to speak in his own defense as his trial begins to wrap up. Many believed Monday to be the only day Smollett would take the stand, however, the actor is set to continue answering lines of questioning from prosecutors on Tuesday.
The former “Empire” actor, 39, took the stand around 1:00 p.m. ET where he immediately fielded questions about his career and how he met brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo – who allege he paid them to carry out a fake hate crime attack against him.
Smollett, meanwhile, began his time on the stand by countermanding some of what Bola Osundairo previously testified, explaining that the first night they met they did drugs together and then Bola took him to a gay bath house where they “made out.” This runs contrary to what Bola previously testified, which was that he is not gay and their relationship was not sexual in nature.
Smollett admitted to doing drugs with the brothers, nothing that he frequently had weed on him but would often pay Bola around $200 for cocaine. Bola previously stated that he did not sell drugs to Smollett but merely acquired them for him.
Prosecutors say Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with the “Empire” studio’s response to hate mail he received.
The letter included a drawing of a stick figure hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at it, and the word “MAGA” — an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The Osundairo brothers testified that Smollett told them to yell “this is MAGA country” during the fake assault – a phrase which Smollett’s former music manager, Brandon Z. Moore – testified overhearing while on the phone with the actor during the alleged attack when questioned on Thursday by the Smollett defense team.
Moore added that Smollett then told him over the phone, “I just got jumped.”
Jussie Smollett testified to the nature of his relationship with brothers Olabinjo Osundairo, right, and Abimbola Osundairo, which he said included doing drugs with Bola Osundairo and the two allegedly attending a gay bathhouse where they ‘made out’ and did more narcotics.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Smollett, however, has maintained his innocence and argued in court that his association with the Osundario brothers only began after “Empire” creator Lee Daniels allegedly told Smollett he was overweight and Smollett further said he intended to use the Osundario brothers’ training regimen to lose weight for a music video, according to Fox News’ Matt Finn.
The day’s testimony also saw Smollett recall under oath to receiving a text message from CNN’s Don Lemon — supposedly relaying information that the Chicago Police Department didn’t believe his account of what occurred.
Reps for CNN and Lemon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Smollett likened the alleged hoax ordeal to a “Looney Tunes” type of chaos when he was attacked.
Asked why he didn’t initially realize a noose was around his neck during the attack, Smollett said, “Because I was getting my a– whooped.”
When asked why he did not call the police after the incident, Smollett said on the stand, “I’m a black man in America and I do not trust police.”
Smollett also testified that an interview he gave to “Good Morning America” was heavily edited.
“Every breath, every emotion is chopped so you really can’t understand it,” Smollett said of the sit-down conversation.
According to Fox News’ Matt Finn, Smollett further pressed that he was invited by Alicia Keys to perform on stage during the Grammys but ultimately declined because he wanted to perform as a singer and not as a singer who was beaten up.
Smollett’s trial wrapped for the day as he was being cross-examined by special prosecutor Dan Webb, who had grilled Smollett about his alleged injuries and his unwillingness to provide his DNA to investigators following the alleged attack.
During his bombshell testimony, Smollett said he took umbrage with Chicago police supposedly indicating Smollett told them his attackers were donning red MAGA hats, stating “I never said that.”
Webb also asked Smollett if he recalls the Northwestern doctor – who was a witness called by Smollett’s own attorney – saying Smollett had no injuries.
“I have a scar under my eye that has not healed… my injuries were real,” Smollett said, according to Fox News’ Matt Finn. “I remember him saying the facial injuries were real…”
Asked if he was concerned that police would see on Smollett’s phone all the substantial communication he had with Bola Osundairo which would pinpoint that the hate crime hoax was planned, Smollett vehemently pressed; “There was no hate crime hoax from my standpoint.”
Meanwhile, a security guard who took the stand on Monday recalled that he told police at the time of the alleged attack that he shined a light in the face of a person running with a ski mask near the scene of the alleged attack – and that the person with the mask was White, yet police persisted in asking if it could have been a Black person.
Former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett delivered a bombshell court testimony on Monday. The actor is set to continue fielding questions from prosecutors on Tuesday.
(Photo by Scott Olson)
Smollett is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the alleged attack — one count for each time he gave a report — to three different officers.
The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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