Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has deleted her tweet of sympathy for the Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who police in Chicago reportedly believe orchestrated a hoax hate crime attack against himself.
Last month, Smollett alleged that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime by two men who yelled “This is MAGA Country” after beating him. The incident sparked widespread condemnation and support from senior Democrats and celebrities, including Pelosi.
“The racist, homophobic attack on [Smollett] is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love,” Pelosi had written on January 29th. “I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery [and] that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once [and] for all.”
On Saturday, Chicago police confirmed that the focus of the investigation had “shifted.” CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz reported that authorities believe that “Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault,” adding that the “the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.”
Pelosi was one of many senior Democrat politicians to condemn the attack, with 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) describing it as an example of a “modern-day lynching.” Others even blamed it on Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe.
To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
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.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
Unlike Pelosi, neither Booker nor Harris have deleted their tweets, and have so far refused to offer any comment on the case’s latest developments. Meanwhile, Smollett’s attorneys have released a statement this weekend denying their client’s deliberate involvement in the attack.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” they wrote. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”