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Watch: Don Lemon, Who Appeared on ‘Empire,’ Describes Talking to Jussie Smollett on Night of ‘Attack’


CNN personality Don Lemon described his phone call with Empire star Jussie Smollett on the night of his hoaxed “attack,” saying that while he spoke to the actor that night, many others had doubts about his story.

“As you may know, Jussie is gay, and since 2015, he has played a gay character, Jamal Lyons on Empire. So it’s a little bit personal for me, and I’ll tell you why, because, that’s when I met him.” Don Lemon explained.

“I was asked to come on the show, play myself in a little cameo. He introduced himself, and he said I’m a big fan, I love your work, it’s good to have you here on the set. Very nice guy,” he continued.

“We chatted for a couple times after that. I saw him maybe when he came to New York, a couple of times. I know him–not best friends, but I do know him. So I spoke to him while he was at the hospital. His friend who was there texted me in the middle of the night and said, ‘Hey, this happened to Jussie.'”

“I called a friend, the friend happened to be there and he said oh, ‘Jussie’s here, here’s the phone.’ So he told me in his own words what he said happened. But I’ve also got to tell you, to be quite honest, that a lot of people, including people in the community, people of color and gay people, had questions about this from the very beginning, the veracity of this story. A lot of people were reasonably skeptical about Jussie’s story. Some of the details just didn’t seem to make sense, and as we always say around here, ‘Facts first.’ But the facts raised a lot of questions.”

Lemon then discussed the details of Smollett’s “attack” in downtown Chicago as well as a threatening letter sent to him that he also allegedly orchestrated.

“Who’s going to be out in the frigid cold streets of Chicago, in the middle of the night, looking for an Empire star? You’ve got to be bundled up in that kind of cold. How would they even know it’s you?” the CNN host asked. “And let’s be honest, there are probably not a whole lot of MAGA fans watching Empire. And that letter–it looks like something out of a bad movie.”

“Why not just hand over your phone to police? Yes, there will be things on your phone that you want to keep private, but if there are also things that prove your story, isn’t it worth the handover? ‘Officer, I have personal things on here I don’t want people to see. I’m trusting you, but I want these guys to be caught, so here is my phone.'”

“The details just didn’t seem to add up,” Lemon concluded.

Indeed. Smollett has now been arrested for filing a false police report.


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