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FLASHBACK: Kamala Harris Called Jussie Smollett Hoax A ‘Modern Day Lynching’
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a Maternal Health Day of Action event in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. Harris is hosting the summit to mark the first-ever federal Maternal Health Day of Action and issued a nationwide call to action to both the public and private sector to help improve maternal health outcomes in the United States. Photographer: Shawn Thew/EPA
Shawn Thew/EPA via Getty Images

Back in 2019, then-Senator Kamala Harris immediately threw her support behind former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett after he claimed he was attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago.

Smollett’s claims sparked a weeks-long investigation by Chicago police to identify and catch Smollett’s alleged attackers, two Nigerian brothers who Smollett paid $3,500 to carry out the hoax, according to prosecutors. A Chicago jury found Smollett guilty on Thursday of five felony charges of lying to police about the alleged hate crime.

After the fake attack on January 29, 2019, Smollett told police that two men jumped him just after 2 a.m. outside of a Subway in Chicago. The attackers screamed homophobic slurs at Smollett, who is gay. The attackers also yelled pro-Trump phrases and threw a noose and a bleach-like substance on Smollett, the actor claimed.

Harris, days after launching her ill-fated 2020 campaign for president, tweeted support for Smollett, characterizing the hoax attack as “an attempted modern day lynching.”

“@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery,” Harris tweeted. “This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”

Asked about her tweet several weeks later, Harris appeared confused and stumbled through comments about the Smollett allegations. As Fox News reported at the time:

During an appearance at a bookstore in Concord, N.H., a female reporter asked the senator from California if she wanted to amend a tweet from Jan. 29, in which she said Smollett was the victim of “an attempted modern day lynching” and called the actor “one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know.” Harris has also used the Smollett attack to push legislation that would make lynching a federal hate crime.

“Which tweet? What tweet?” Harris asked. As the reporter specified the tweet in question, Harris appeared to look around for a campaign staffer before responding.

“OK, so, I will say this about that case,” she said. “I think that the facts are still unfolding, and, um, I’m very, um, concerned about obviously, the initial, um, allegation that he made about what might have happened.

“And it’s something we should all take seriously whenever anyone, um, alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation,” Harris added. “And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment, but I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation.”

Smollett’s lead defense attorney, Nenye Uche, said after Thursday’s verdict that he plans to appeal the jury’s decision and maintains his client’s innocence.

“We feel 100 percent confident that this case will be won on appeal,” Uche said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the route we wanted but sometimes that’s the route you have to take to win, especially a case where we remain 100 percent confident in our client’s innocence.”

Related: Jussie Smollett Found Guilty On Multiple Counts In Hate Crime Hoax Case

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