CNN commentator Symone Sanders insisted on Thursday that things are still not adding up in the Jussie Smollett case, saying that his story was “staunchly believable” as of two days ago.
She said it is “very concerning” that the leaks all came from the Chicago Police Department and insisted that Smollett’s claim that he was attacked by two President Donald Trump supporters in near sub-zero temperatures in Chicago who were yelling “this is MAGA country” and hurling racial and homophobic slurs was “staunchly believable” as of two days days ago.
On February 19, when Sanders said she thought Smollett’s story was still “staunchly believable,” news reports had already surfaced that indicated that Smollett had paid two Nigerian-American brothers to orchestrate the attack after the the hate letter that he allegedly mailed to himself on the Empire set did not get enough attention. Celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Dave Chappelle had already mocked Smollett for his alleged hoax while Cardi B had declared that Smollett “f*cked up Black History Month.”
“I have spoken with Jussie Smollett’s team. I’ve heard Jussie tell his account in his own words. And I want to tell you… When I had this conversation about two days ago, I believed him,” she insisted. “It was staunchly believable.”
Sanders said she only changed her mind when the video of the two Nigerian-American brothers buying ski masks and a red cap surfaced. Smollett reportedly paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack and gave them an additional $100 to buy supplies.
“When the video came out today of the two gentlemen buying what I’ve referred to as a hate crime starter pack, I, like everyone else, had questions,” Sanders said. “At this point, my thoughts are…. we need to see some of the evidence… I think it’s very concerning that all of these leaks came from the Chicago Police Department… So frankly all we have is leaks from the Chicago Police Department… now what they’ve said at this press conference and what Jussie Smollett and his team have said.”
Sanders insisted that “things do not add up here” and “this just doesn’t seem right” because, in reference to the $3,500 that Smollett reportedly paid to the brothers to stage the attack, “$3,500 won’t even buy a round-trip ticket to Nigeria.”
“So I, like many people in America, are confused… even though I’ve heard, I’ve seen what the police department’s said,” she said. “So at the very least I think we should see the police report.”
Sanders said Smollett has lost in the court of public opinion, adding that “this is not a good day for Jussie Smollet” and “frankly it’s a terrible day for folks who have not come forward who have experienced hate crimes and who now are maybe hesitant to come forward if something does actually happen to them because of this.”
“So it’s just not a good day,” Sanders said. “It’s still a terrible Black History Month.”