Investigators looking into the alleged hate crime against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett are examining a threatening letter sent last month. A source told CBS Chicago, “when the letter didn’t get enough attention, [Smollett] concocted the staged attack.”
Pointedly, police in Chicago have stopped calling Smollett a victim and now refer to him as “the individual who reported the incident.” CBS News has learned two brothers have admitted to helping fake the incident, and that the actor himself paid them to do it.
When police raided the home of brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo last week, one of the items seized was a magazine. That’s notable because the week before Smollett said he was beaten by two masked, race-baiting homophobes who yelled “this is MAGA country,” the “Empire” star received a threatening letter at the Chicago studios where his show is filmed. The words appeared to be spelled out with letters clipped from a magazine.
“So the question I ask as a prosecutor, ‘What is the motive of the brothers to do any of this. Why would they do this?'” said CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman.
Multiple sources told CBS Chicago Smollett was upset the letter didn’t get a “bigger reaction,” and decided to orchestrate the attack. Investigators have requested a follow-up interview with Smollett, who has repeatedly denied faking the attack.
Smollett’s lawyers said he knows the brothers, one of whom was his personal trainer. In a video posted on Facebook last month, Abel Osundairo, a bodybuilder, practiced posing to one of Smollett’s songs. Ola Osundairo appeared in the second season of “Empire.”
The men told CBS Chicago “We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
Chicago police have very publicly requested another interview with Smollett because of all the new information they have gathered in the last week, much of it undermining the actor’s version of what he says happened to him three weeks ago.