Mark Geragos, a lawyer for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday night that he believes his client is the victim of a “media gang bang” of “unprecedented proportions.”
“They’re bringing 16 counts. They’re bringing 16 counts because they parsed out two statements,” Geragos said. “I defy you to find something like that. He was not suspended. They have not talked to one person at Fox who has said he was dissatisfied with his money. They have not interviewed one person connected with the show ‘Empire’ who says he was dissatisfied with his money.”
“What is happening here is frankly a media gang bang of this guy of unprecedented proportions and that’s the reason I got into this,” Geragos continued. “I’ve never seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and more viciously and rob somebody of their presumption of innocence like this case. It’s startling the way people assume that he’s guilty.”
Transcript of the segment provided via CNN:
CNN HOST ANDERSON COOPER: So, let’s talk to Jussie Smollett’s defense attorney, Mark Geragos. Mark, thanks very much for being with us. First of all, what is your response to the 16 felony counts that he’s now facing? And is this right that it’s basically one count for each alleged lie that he told?
MARK GERAGOS, JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Anderson, even if he were supposedly the one who orchestrated this, this is an outrage. The fact that he maintains his innocence makes it even more outrageous. 16 counts, I don’t — I think — I defy anybody to find any indictment anywhere where somebody has brought 16 counts for being a victim of a hate crime, basically.
[20:50:10] The problem with this case, and it started with I think almost immediately is —
COOPER: But they’re not bringing 16 counts —
GERAGOS: Hold on for one second, Anderson, because you just put it.
GERAGOS: They’re bringing 16 counts. They’re bringing 16 counts because they parsed out two statements. I defy you to find something like that. He was not suspended. They have not talked to one person at Fox who has said he was dissatisfied with his money. They have not interviewed one person connected with the show “Empire” who says he was dissatisfied with his money.
They have not — they are the ones who started their internal investigation about the leaks because all of the information that was being leaked was false and I wasn’t at Northwestern Hospital. Northwestern Hospital supposedly, if you believe the reporting, let go of 50 people because 50 people have illegally accessed his records.
What is happening here is frankly a media gang bang of this guy of unprecedented proportions and that’s the reason I got into this. I’ve never seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and more viciously and rob somebody of their presumption of innocence like this case. It’s startling the way people assume that he’s guilty.
GERAGOS: He hasn’t been given one stitch of discovery, not one. There isn’t one police report. Your package just said he paid $3,500. I’ve got the texts, those texts and they conceded that the check and the texts were for training. It wasn’t to pay anything. So, I don’t understand where any of this comes from. He supposedly paid for it. He is the one who supposedly was dissatisfied. There’s no evidence to that.
COOPER: So you’re saying the police — no one from the superintendent had talked about this theory that he wanted more money, he wasn’t happy. You’re saying they haven’t talked to anybody associated with their production at all.
COOER: So — but, I mean, does it make sense to you —
GERAGOS: Right. So wouldn’t you expect if a police chief — hold on, Anderson. If a chief police is going to come out and say and give a press conference, and is going to say he was dissatisfied, and is going to basically taint the jury pool, wouldn’t you expect that there would be some basis upon which you would do that?
Wouldn’t you expect one person would have been interviewed who actually knew something about this was negotiating his salary, his agent, somebody on the set, his producer, anybody? Wouldn’t you expect them at the very least?
COOPER: So why — so why did — I mean, if your version of events if, you know, you’re kind of sticking by the version of events that he has probably given, why would these two brothers who, I guess, Smollett knows and was paying for training services or was using as a trainer and there are checks between them or at least a check between them, why did they attack Jussie Smollett using Trump language and a noose and all of these things, which — I mean, there’s — you know, and a liquid. Why are you alleging that they did that?
GERAGOS: I haven’t interviewed them, but I do — I will ask you this, why is it that if they did this and if they were in cahoots and you went in front of a grand jury, why weren’t they indicted, number one. Number two, the police chief is the one who says that they waited until the 47th hour before all of a sudden they were visited and they changed their story and they haven’t been given an immunity, why is that?
And by the way, if these two witnesses were — if they believed these two witnesses, why didn’t they go through the preliminary hearing and put the witnesses on and let them tell their story? There are media requests pending. As soon as the media requested to be able to do the preliminary hearing yesterday, they ran in yesterday and did a grand jury indictment.
As soon as I sent him back to answer questions on an airplane, they didn’t do the grand jury anymore and they filed a criminal complaint. Anybody who is in the criminal justice system, I defy you to find one commentator who hasn’t been caught up in this kind of — this media lynching. Find one legal commentator who tries cases who says I’m familiar with a prosecutor who comes out and gives a closing argument at the bond hearing.
COOPER: But doesn’t it just seem weird to you that you get allegedly attacked by two people who you know and you don’t seem to recognize them even though you claimed you fought back and they ran away and that they — I believe initially there was — I believe Mr. Smollett said one of them was white or they were white. Isn’t it just weird that you get attacked, allegedly attacked by two people you actually know who’ve actually been on “Empire” who you actually worked out with and you don’t recognize them?
[20:55:08] GERAGOS: Yes, yes. And that’s — guess what, I don’t know whether he made that statement or — but what I do know is that when he was told that they had evidence against this two, he refused to sign the complaint because he could not believe it. If he thought they were in on it, wouldn’t he have signed the complaint? Wouldn’t he have sign the complaint? He didn’t believe it.
Now, if you’re asking me what their motivation is, I suppose I could speculate. The motivation of Jussie is not an element of the crime. Their motivation, I’ve got my theories on it but I haven’t seen one piece of evidence and they don’t have one piece of evidence that they’ve turn over that links Jussie to this.
What they do have is a whale of a case as if you believe what the police chief is saying. They’ve got a great case against the two brothers. They’ve got Lyft receipts. They’ve ATM receipts. They’ve got a surveillance video.
By the way, take a look at that surveillance video, tell me if there’s anything that looks peculiar on it to you. I’ll leave that to the investigative journalist. But this is my question, what do they have that corroborates the story? These are the two people who did it. What do they have besides their word that says he was in on this?
COOPER: Man, I don’t know the answer to that question. It does seem odd — I mean, it just seems weird that, you know, a letter is allegedly sent with, you know, pieces cut out from a magazine, which frankly — I mean, as someone who gets hate mail and threatening letters, I’ve — you know, I’ve only seen that in movies. It seems like something someone from, you know, Hollywood would think that’s what a threatening letter looks like. And then he happens to get attacked two weeks later.
GERAGOS: Anderson —
COOPER: I mean, it just — the whole thing doesn’t make much sense, does it?
GERAGOS: Anderson, you’re in Los Angeles today, right?
GERAGOS: Come down to my office. I’ve got taped up on my wall some of my hate mail where they cut out letters from magazines. So maybe you get a better — you’ve got a more elevated sense of haters. But my haters use that method.
GERAGOS: Number one, they’re taped in my office (INAUDIBLE) you. Number two, by the way, this idea that somehow he had something to do with this and it wasn’t mentioned, the reason for that is, remember, the chief came out. He said that they had something to do with, or either those two, or Jussie had something to do with the letter, that’s a federal investigation. And if I remember correctly, I would ask your reporter to go back and look because the FBI or the Feds, because I think it’s postal inspector pushed back on that idea and said they don’t have any evidence of that and I will tell you he has cooperated with that investigation as well.
COOPER: All right. Mark Geragos, appreciate it. Thank you very much, Mark.