After the two African men were picked up by Chicago police at O’Hare airport this week, the original narrative of the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett began to derail rapidly.
It now appears to be in tatters. As of Saturday evening, police have reportedly acknowledged that they are, er, viewing the incident through a different lens.
‘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 spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said.
‘We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.’
The “Empire” cast member, Jussie Smollett, has indeed lawyered up. He is now represented by Michael Monico, the high-profile criminal defense attorney who represented Michael Cohen in his run-ins with federal authorities.
Multiple news outlets are now reporting that police suspect Smollett paid two Nigerian brothers, Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, to stage the attack on him in the early hours of January 29. Both brothers are connected with the show “Empire,” on which they have appeared as extras. The Osundairo brothers also posted video on Instagram showing them working out at the gym with Smollett.
After the staged attack they received initial payments, with the promise of additional cash when they returned from a trip to Nigeria. It was on their return on Wednesday, February 13, that police detained them at the airport.
Brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25, were cut loose from police custody late on Friday. They had been held since Wednesday, after being picked up at O’Hare Airport while disembarking a flight from Nigeria.
The brothers were paid $3,500 before leaving for Nigeria and were promised another $500 upon returning, according to WBBM-TV.
The police apparently zeroed in on the brothers through pursuing the purchase of the rope that was around Smollett’s neck right after the alleged attack.
[I]nvestigators … reportedly have evidence that Smollett directed his ‘attackers’ to buy the rope used in the ‘assault’ at a local hardware store.
Documents prove two Nigerian brothers who work as extras on the highly rated Fox drama bought the rope which was found around Smollett’s neck at Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in Chicago.
The brothers made the purchase on the weekend of January 25.
They also bought red hats for the gig:
They also bought two red plain hats that they wore during the alleged attack, according to sources close to the investigation.
Police believe that the red hats were purchased at a local beauty supply store in the Uptown section of Chicago.
NEW: Sources say at least one of the brothers purchased the rope used in Jussie Smollett incident at Crafty Beaver hardware store the weekend of Jan 25th.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 17, 2019
At a minimum, this detail tends to confirm that the staged attack was meant to implicate “Trump supporters” from the outset. The attention to detail does seem somewhat theatrical, considering that the “attack” wasn’t caught on camera, and was always a matter of verbal witness by Smollett. There is no independent record of the incident, so in theory he could have made up whatever details he wanted to.
The Osundairo brothers apparently were enthusiastic about cooperating:
The two brothers are both strongly opposed to President Donald Trump and fervently pro-LGBT, fellow Empire cast and crew members tell TMZ. Both men are said to be loyal fans of former President Barack Obama.
Smollett could face up to three years in prison if he is prosecuted for filing a false report. His attorneys put out a statement Saturday evening vigorously denying that he participated in staging an “attack” on himself. According to Deadline, Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Entertainment, which had previously been vocal in support of the actor, have gone silent in the last 24 hours.
The Daily Mail supplies this reminder:
Smollett made international headlines after reporting the attack on January 29, in which he said two men assaulted him at 2am on a Chicago street, shouting vile racist and homophobic slurs.
The actor said that he fought back bravely as the two men shouted ‘this is MAGA country,’ poured bleach on him, and looped a noose around his neck.
In an interview with ABC News’s Robin Roberts that aired on Thursday, Smollett couldn’t hold back tears as he recalled his victimization by the vile racist and homophobic slurs.
The mainstream media were quick to jump on the story in January. Michelle Malkin commented on January 29, the day of the “attack”:
Despite all the holes, contradictions, and unanswered questions, the MAGA hate crime narrative has already calcified. (Sound familiar?) By 5pm Eastern on Tuesday, a search for “MAGA” and “Smollett” on Google yielded 3,520,000 results. And TMZ ended its day of social justice pot-stirring with the Rev. Al Sharpton calling for President Trump to “denounce Jussie Smollett’s MAGA attackers” who have yet to be identified.
Will the MSM ever be called to account for uncritically accepting a “hate crime” story and broadcasting it to smear millions of Americans? Doubtful.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.