‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett ‘Betrayed’ and ‘Took Advantage' of His Black Attackers, Lawyer Says
On Monday, Gloria Schmidt, the lawyer representing the two black men whom Empire star Jussie Smollett allegedly paid to stage a hate hoax attack against him, said Smollett had "betrayed" the two men and "took advantage" of them. She is representing Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo and his brother Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo.
"This case really is about ... a person who is in a position of trust who really betrayed my clients and who took advantage of them," Schmidt told Fox News on Monday.
"Your clients anticipated money in the form of $3500 in a written check?" Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked.
"What they did — and I’ll say they have tremendous regret over their role and their participation in this — What they did was accept payment for training that also encompassed doing a favor for this person," the lawyer said. "So it is not — it’s not an easy narrative to say, 'Oh, okay, let’s take $3500 for this.'"
Hemmer pressed her, saying, "Your clients produced the receipt for the rope made into a noose, is that correct? They aren’t entirely innocent here."
"When you say 'innocent,' I’m saying that they are remorseful for their involvement. That’s without a doubt," Schmidt insisted. "I was there to witness their realization process, to see that this was something that was going to affect tremendous people across the board, have an enormous impact on minority populations. So I was there to see that realization process and they are remorseful for that."
Fox News reporter Sandra Smith asked the lawyer why the Osundairo brothers agreed to stage the hate hoax attack on Smollett.
"When we go back to the original hours that followed the report of this attack, Smollett said his attackers — the two brothers — poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck and it was then the investigation launched," Smith said. "That turned into hours, days, tens of thousands of dollars. I hear you saying that they have regret over this incident. Why did they do it?"
The lawyer said she could not answer that question, but the Osundairo brothers themselves should do so.
"You know, that’s a great question. I think that everyone wants to know why they did it," Schmidt acknowledged. "I think I’m not the best person to answer that so I really think that you will hear the best from them directly."
Smollett claimed that on January 29, masked white attackers wearing MAGA hats screamed, "This is MAGA country!" before seizing him, putting a noose around his neck, and pouring an unknown bleach-scented liquid on him.
Last month, Chicago Police announced that they believed the Osundairo brothers attacked Smollett on his orders and that they considered Smollett a suspect. On Friday, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for lying to police about this matter. Dozens of hospital employees were fired for reviewing Smollett's medical records.
No matter how remorseful the Osundairo brothers are, they took part in this horrendous hate hoax that tied up police resources, branded Chicago as a hateful city, and cast aspersions on supporters of President Donald Trump.
Yet Schmidt insisted that "they're not in any legal peril." The Osundairo brothers cooperated with police, uncovering the falsehood of the hoax. This may give them immunity for their role in the deception. Indeed, the remorse the lawyer cited might help explain why the Osundairo brothers turned on Smollett.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.