‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett tells GMA he’s ‘pissed off’ over doubters
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Actor Jussie Smollett isn’t happy about the number of people who doubt his account of racist and homophobic attack he reported to Chicago police late last month.
“I’m pissed off,” he told “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, in a clip of an interview that was released in advance of an interview airing at 6 a.m. Thursday on ABC.
In another clip released by ABC ahead of the segment, Roberts asks: “What happened that night?”
Smollett’s answers are edited out of the clip. He also appears to well up with tears when asked: “At any point during the attack, did you fear for your life?”
MORE ABOUT THE SMOLLETT CASE
• After giving redacted phone records, reps stress ‘Jussie is the victim here’
• Jussie Smollett on reported attack: ‘Justice will be served’
• Trump calls Jussie Smollett attack ‘horrible,’ family calls it ‘domestic terrorism’
Smollett has told police that on Jan. 29 he was walking in the 300 block of East North Water Street about 2 a.m. when two people walked up to him, yelled the slurs, hit him in the face, poured a substance — suspected to be bleach — on him, and put a “thin, light rope” around his neck.
Smollett initially was “reluctant” to call police because of the attention he would generate as a public figure, police said. But his manager eventually called at 2:42 a.m., about 40 minutes after the attack.
The actor said he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack. His manager has said that he could hear the attack and was able to hear the phrase “MAGA country” — the acronym from President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. On Monday he gave the police redacted phone records; he has declined to turn over his phone.
Internet sleuths have cast aspersions on Smollett’s story since it was first reported, and an incomplete phone log may do little, if anything, to quell those doubts.
Smollet said in the interview to air Thursday that the “attacks” on his credibility after the incident have been hard to take.
He originally thought “if I tell the truth, that’s it, because it’s the truth. Oh, how can you doubt that?” he said. But then he realized many “don’t even want to see the truth.”
He also said he believes the images of two people that were seen on surveillance cameras the night of the attack are the ones who attacked him. Police have called them “persons of interest.”
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. Never did.” Why is he so sure? “Cause … I was there.”
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said earlier this month that Smollett has been cooperative with detectives, and that the department is making progress in its investigation.
“We have no reason to think he’s not being genuine with us,” Johnson said. “The allegations that are described to us are horrendous, horrible and quite frankly cowardly. He is a victim, and we treat him like a victim.”
On Tuesday, after Chicago Police said the phone records that the actor had turned over were “insufficient for a criminal investigation,” representatives for Smollett issued a statement to reiterate that “Jussie is the victim here.”
“Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible,” Chris Bastardi, a spokesman for Smollett, said in an emailed statement. “Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.”