Jussie Smollett arrested
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Shortly after posting bond, Jessie Smollett left the Chicago courthouse led by what appeared to be a bodyguard and swarmed by a surging group of media.
Jussie Smollett was disappointed with Fox’s reaction to the "racist and homophobic" letter that appeared at Chicago's "Empire" studio addressed to him -- which he actually sent himself -- so, he staged an attack, prosecutors said at a news conference after the actor's bail hearing.
According to Chicago police, Smollett tried to gain attention by sending the false letter, but when that didn’t work Smollett upped the ante, and paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack.
Smollett texted Abimbola Osundairo, one of two men involved in the hoax, "Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up to talk face-to-face?"
They later met up and Smollett drove Osundairo in his car. During the ride, Smollett talked about his "displeasure" over the handling of the letter and wanted to "stage an attack," prosecutors said.
About that letter: Seven days before the alleged attack, the letter was sent to a Chicago studio, where "Empire" is filmed. The letter contained written threats, cutout letters and a powdery substance that turned out to be ibuprofen. In cutout letters, it said, "Smollett, jussie, you will die" and "MAGA" was written as the return address, prosecutors said.
The FBI is conducting forensic analysis of the letter.
Jussie Smollett's bond was set at $100,000 and the actor must surrender his passport.
Smollett appeared in front of State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., moments ago.
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett gave the two brothers connected to the staged attack $100 to buy supplies, according to text message read in court.
Prosecutors said Smollett asked the brothers to stage the attack, and directed the brothers on what to say, including the MAGA comments. The staged attack lasted 45-seconds. At least a minute later, the brothers are seen catching a ride to leave the scene, prosecutors said.
Police said surveillance video from a beauty supply store captured the day before the assault, appears to show the brothers purchasing a ski mask, sunglasses, a red hat and other items. They paid for the items in cash, according to the owner.
Smollett was seen taking a deep breath as prosecutors continued to read the text messages in court.
The actor appeared in front of State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. wearing the same clothes he wore in his mugshot.
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is at the Cook County Courthouse and his bond hearing is underway, according to CNN’s Nick Watt and Rosalina Nieves, who are in the courtroom.
Smollett, who was wearing a black puffy jacket, gave his name during the hearing as his family stood by.
He was represented by an attorney from Geragos & Geragos law firm.
Political and civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, speaking to reporters, said Jussie Smollett, if liable, "ought to face accountability to the max."
"If Smollett is wrong, he ought to face accountability to the max. If it turns out another way, it ought to be that way," he said. "I think that what we have learned is that we have got to always look at these situations."
He was also asked if Democratic 2020 candidates Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker had jumped too soon to show support of Smollett, prompting Sharpton to question why the attention was on them.
"I think many came out, including President Trump. So again, let's not segregate who came out. Donald Trump came out and said it was horrible. Now did he not? So why are you only asking me about Booker and, and her? Are we having segregated selection here? A lot of people came out," he told a reporter.
Harris and Booker both called Smollett's descriptions of the alleged attack an "attempted modern-day lynching."
After the alleged attack, the President also responded, calling it "horrible." But today, Trump turned his criticism to Smollett following the actor's arrest, saying he made "dangerous comments."