Jussie Smollett’s lawyers meeting with prosecutors, police investigators
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Lawyers for Jussie Smollett are meeting with Cook County prosecutors and police investigators about the reported attack on the “Empire” actor late last month.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press that the meeting was taking place Wednesday afternoon. He declined to confirm reports that subpoenas had been issued for Smollett’s phone and bank records.
Smollett on Wednesday added a high-profile Los Angeles defense lawyer Mark Geragos to his legal team.
Smollett — whose claims he was attacked near his Streeterville apartment have been the basis for a weeks-long Chicago police hate crime investigation that now appears to be looking at the “Empire” star himself — adds Geragos to a powerhouse local team of defense lawyers led by Todd S. Pugh, and Victor Henderson.
Smollett, who does not face any criminal charges, also was represented by Michael Monico, another Chicago defense lawyer whose recent clients include Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen. Pugh and Henderson will continue as lead attorneys in the case.
Fox Television said Wednesday that Smollett “continues to be a consummate professional on set” and it has reiterated that he’s not being written out of the show.
The statement by 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment follows reports that Smollett’s role on the show was being slashed amid police investigations into reported attack.
Geragos’ celebrity clientele over the years has included pop superstar Michael Jackson, who hired and fired Geragos ahead of his trial on child molestation charges, and, more recently, former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick.
The move to hire an attorney with ample experience handling cases that attract national attention comes as police and prosecutors this week talked with two men who had previously been identified by police as “potential suspects” in the attack on Smollett, one of whom had worked as Smollett’s personal trainer and had appeared on an episode of “Empire.”
Before he was retained, Geragos appeared on CNN and discussed the Smollett case with Anderson Cooper, expressing concern over the unusually high number of leaks in the case attributed to law enforcement sources.
“Any time you get law enforcement drip-drip-drip leaks, that to me is a telltale sign that something else is going on here,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything except leaks according to law enforcement sources. To me, that screams out somebody is trying to manipulate something.”
Police had said they wanted to interview Smollett to discuss information gleaned from the two men that has “changed the trajectory” of the investigation. The two men, bodybuilding brothers from Chicago who were detained by police after arriving at O’Hare Airport on a return flight from Nigeria, spent Tuesday afternoon in the offices adjacent to the grand jury room, talking with investigators, but did not testify before the grand jury. The two were seen walking into the same room once again Wednesday afternoon.