CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Jussie Smollett’s brother says the actor’s career was flourishing at the time of the attack he’s accused of staging, and he didn’t need to stage a crime to boost his career.
Jojo Smollett joined “Morning in America” to clear misconceptions surrounding the former “Empire” actor’s report that two brothers assaulted him in a homophobic and racist attack in January 2019.
“This has been a really serious character assassination. At the time that the attack occurred, he was literally on the up and up,” Jojo Smollett said. “He had Broadway shows planned. He had two movies in the mix. Actually, on the first day of court, he found out that he won an award at a prominent film festival for a movie he just recently directed.”
Jojo Smollett described his brother’s strength as heroic amid prosecutors’ claim that the 39-year-old staged the Chicago attack and paid Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo a $3,500 check to put a noose around his neck and pour bleach on him.
“This is completely outside of his character the way he’s been depicted,” Jojo Smollett said. “I’ve never seen someone be able to continue with what he’s contended with for the last 3 years…being accused of something that you didn’t do and that you were actually originally a victim of.”
Jojo Smollett said the court of public opinion and the media have heavily impacted his brother’s case, but he wants critics to know his brother is innocent.
“This case has been politically motivated, as much in this country, unfortunately, is right now,” the eldest Smollett sibling said. “I’m just asking for everyone to remember that in this nation we are innocent until proven guilty and the presumption of innocence is something that is key and fundamental to our liberty. My brother is no different.”
The actor is charged with felony disorderly conduct. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts predict that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
Watch the full interview in the embedded player.