President Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were among those reacting to the revelation that, according to law enforcement officials, actor Jussie Smollett faked a hate crime attack and blamed it on supporters of the president.
Smollett said he was attacked in the early hours of Jan. 29 by two white men who yelled “This is MAGA country,” in an apparent reference to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”
But in mid-February police arrested two black men who then informed detectives that Smollett paid them thousands of dollars to fake the attack, even going so far as to rehearse it several days beforehand.
Trump took to Twitter on Feb. 21 to ask, “Jussie Smollett—what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also weighed in, calling a press conference police gave on Thursday “incredible.”
“You can really hear the frustration and emotion in Superintendent Johnson’s voice,” Trump Jr. wrote.
During the press conference, Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that investigators found Smollett’s motive to be frustration about his pay on the television show “Empire.” “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” he told reporters.
Previously, Trump Jr. shared an article about the story of Smollett allegedly being attacked taking up police resources and drawing the attention of politicians while the murder of a 1-year-old boy in Chicago went practically unnoticed.
Incredible press conference. You can really hear the frustration and emotion in Superintendent Johnson’s voice. https://t.co/kWtHimlo4U
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 21, 2019
A pretty serious consequence of all the wasted time on the Smollett hate hoax.
Politicians use Jussie Smollett, while a 1-year-old boy shot in the head is set aside – Chicago Tribune https://t.co/ujCUgXbv7I
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 20, 2019
Smollett has been attacking the president and his supporters for years.
In one post on Jan. 20, Smollett called Trump “and all his white cohorts” a “national disgrace.”
“And if you support them … so are you,” he wrote. “Clowns.” He shared a video that showed far-left lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaking.
.@AOC is only speaking facts. This is so far beyond political party affiliation. Across the world…no matter the border…from sea to shining sea…45 and all his white hooded cohorts are a national disgrace. And if you support them…so are you. Clowns. pic.twitter.com/Qz4uIjF7xa
— Jussie Smollett (@JussieSmollett) January 20, 2019
Before the midterms in 2018, Smollett took to Instagram to urge followers to, “Get angry… get even more organized… get registered and #VOTE. Swipe to learn more. This isn’t a joke…don’t sleep.”
In an interview that aired the day before the men who police say helped Smollett stage the attack were arrested, Smollett claimed that he was targeted because he frequently criticized Trump.
“I come really, really hard against 45,” Smollett told Robin Roberts, referring to how Trump is the 45th president. “I come really really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.”
On the opposite side, many lawmakers deleted tweets they had issued as initial reactions to the claimed attack, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who had called it a “modern-day lynching.” Democratic leader Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) were among other lawmakers who quietly removed tweets of indignation from their pages without explanation.
Harris and other Democratic presidential contenders have withheld comment since police announced Smollett was officially a suspect in the investigation for filing a false police report.