On Tuesday, in an interview with “The Grio,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) blamed President Trump for the attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, snapping, “It’s coming from the President of the United States. He’s dog-whistling every day.”
Waters began by noting she was friends with Smollett, saying, “I know Jussie. I love him. His family’s a friend of mine. I know his sisters, I’ve met his mom, and I called already to Jazz, one of the sisters, to talk to her about what’s happening, what’s going on. So she said he’s okay, he’s out of the hospital. We didn’t talk about it much more than that, but I was on my way to Chicago to see about him. You know what I’m saying? I love him; he’s a fantastic human being; he’s so giving. He shows up at all the community events; he does a lot working with the community, but he comes from that kind of family. And so, I’m pleased that he’s doing okay."
Then she segued to attacking the president:
But we have to understand this is happening for a reason. Why all of a sudden do we have people unable to study while black, unable to mow a lawn while black, unable to have a picnic while black, and being attacked? It’s coming from the President of the United States. He’s dog-whistling every day. He’s separating and dividing, and he is basically emboldening those folks who feel this way, maybe never said and never talked about it, never could act it out, but now they’re on it.
Waters concluded, “When I heard about what had happened to Jussie, and I heard they put a rope around him, and they poured bleach on him and stuff, I was absolutely, very upset. So I’m feeling better that he’s okay, and I am looking forward to seeing him.”
There are conflicting reports as to who politicized the nature of the attack on Smollett, claiming that the attackers yelled “This is MAGA country.” On Thursday morning the Chicago Tribune reported that the report came from Smollett himself, writing:
The pictures show two people walking down the street near where Smollett said two men approached him early Tuesday, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him and wrapped a rope around his neck. The images are dark and do not show any attack. Their faces are not clear at all. The pictures came from a surveillance camera on New Street near Illinois Street and were taken between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on Fox's “Empire," said he was attacked about 15 to 30 minutes later around the corner, in the 300 block of East North Lower Water Street.
The Tribune added:
Smollett said he had just left a Subway when the men approached and yelled the slurs. Smollett is black and openly gay. Smollett told police he was hit and a chemical -- maybe bleach -- was poured on him. They put a rope around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country,’’ he told detectives.
The Chicago Sun Times also reported Thursday morning: “Smollett initially told police his attackers were two men wearing ski masks and all black clothing. In a follow-up interview in the morning, Smollett told detectives the men also yelled ‘this is MAGA country’ after they attacked him, according to Guglielmi. Smollett didn’t provide any other description of the men, including their race."
However, in its initial report on Tuesday, TMZ reported that it was not Smollett himself, but rather "[s]ources directly connected" to Smollett, that reported the attackers shouted, "This is MAGA country."
Watch Waters below: