Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett headed back to court on Wednesday as part of his ongoing hate crime hoax case in which he allegedly lied to police about being physically assaulted by Trump supporters.
The former Empire star maintained his innocence as he made his way to a Chicago court, denouncing the case as a “dog and pony show,” according to a report from Fox News.
Jussie Smollett was set to attend a court hearing to determine if one of his attorneys, Nenye Uche, has a conflict of interest that could disqualify him from representing the actor, according to The Chicago Tribune. Smollett made his way to the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Wednesday wearing a mask and a blue suit.
Smollett is facing several charges stemming from the January 2019 incident in which he claimed he was physically assaulted while returning from a Subway sandwich shop at 2 a.m. The actor claimed he was attacked by two men wearing MAGA hats who declared “This is MAGA country.”
Smollettt’s claims elicited widespread sympathy from the establishment media as well as prominent Democrats, including then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who called the incident an “attempted modern day lynching.”
But the actor’s allegations began to unravel under scrutiny of the police, who instead found evidence suggesting Smollett staged the whole incident with the help of two Nigerian bodybuilding brothers.
In a stunning move, Cook Country State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (D) dropped the charges, enabling Smollett to skate. But a Cook County grand jury eventually returned a six-count indictment accusing the actor of lying.
Some media reports have noted that Foxx had close ties with former First Lady Michelle Obama. Smollett campaigned for President Barack Obama and appeared with the first couple at public events. Tina Tchen, who was Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, reportedly contacted Foxx regarding the Smollett case. Foxx eventually recused herself from the case following reports she was connected to the Empire actor’s family.
The bodybuilding brothers — Abel and Ola Osundario — have alleged the actor paid them $3,500 to “assault” him in an effort to elicit public sympathy and thus boost his career because he was unhappy with his role on Empire.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Abel and Ola Osundario were in attendance at Wednesday’s court hearing.