During cross-examination from prosecution on Tuesday, former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett admitted to amending his description of his alleged attackers from “white” to “pale,” adding that he was just being “responsible.”
The actor said that he “initially ‘assumed’ his attackers were white, but that he changed his story afterwards to say they were ‘pale’ and that it was the ‘responsible’ thing to go [sic],” the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
“I didn’t want to make the assumption that they were white,” Smollett said on the stand. “So I said let me change that and just say that they were pale skinned.”
The 39-year-old contended he only changed the description because he was being “responsible,” adding, “They could’ve been a white person, they could have been a pale someone else.”
Prosecution then pressed Smollett on the matter, asking if he described his alleged attackers as white “because he thought it would [sic] more attention,” the Mail reported.
That’s when the actor reportedly snapped at Special Prosector Dan Webb, “You’d have to ask someone who actually did a fake hate crime.”
Back in January 2019, Smollett claimed he was targeted and attacked by apparent supporters of President Donald Trump in an anti-gay, anti-black hate crime. His alleged attackers, whom he initially described as white males who yelled “This is MAGA country,” were brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. They are both black men who knew Smollett before the attack and claim the actor orchestrated the “hoax.” The actor contends he is a real vicim.
Smollett is facing up to three years in jail for allegedly lying to police about the alleged hate crime hoax.
During cross-examination, the actor also become defensive when asked about private Instagram messages he sent to Abimbola Osundairo, hours before the alleged attack. During the back-and-forth, Cook County Judge James Linn intervened to admonish the actor for his behavior. The Daily Wire reported:
Smollett wrote in one exchange to Osundairo at around 12:41 a.m. on the day of the alleged attack, “N***a finally made it just landed haha.”
“Was that 20 minutes to one?” Webb asked the actor.
“A smirking Smollett leaned forward and corrected him mockingly, replying, ‘Yes, 19 minutes to one,’” the New York Post reported. “Getting hammered over the Instagram messages, the actor seethed, ‘Mr. Webb, with all due respect, you do not understand Instagram.’”
According to the report, “Smollett insisted that the prosecution was incorrectly portraying the conversation by not explaining that he’d also publicly lamented his long-delayed flight in a series of public posts to his Instagram story.”
“You’re misrepresenting me to the jury and to the entire court, and it’s not fair,” he told Webb. “Without showing the actual Insta stories that I posted, they’re not getting the full story so they don’t understand.”
“Look at me. I’m older,” the prosecutor said. “I tell you right now I do not understand Instagram. … I’m asking you if the messages I’m about to show you are between Bola and you.”
“Just answer his questions without arguing,” Judge Linn interjected, chiding Smollett.
“There was no fake attack,” the angered actor insisted. “There was an update to my over 5 million followers.”
Related: Judge Admonishes Jussie Smollett: ‘Just Answer His Questions Without Arguing’