Jussie Smollett Attorney Defends Shifting Story: Maybe His Black Attackers Wore 'Whiteface'

March 28, 2019

Jussie Smollett's attorney suggested on NBC's Today that the Nigerian-American brothers they claim attacked the Empire actor were wearing "whiteface" during the attack.

Smollett was charged with filing a false police report after claiming to be the victim of a hate crime, but charges were dropped in exchange for forfeiting his $10,000 bail. Police and prosecutors alike maintain that the evidence points to Smollett faking the attack.

The actor originally told police that his attackers were white, placed a noose around his neck, and called him racial epithets and yelled "This is MAGA country." But after Abel and Ola Osundairo told police that Smollett paid them to stage a hate crime, his legal team have suggested the attack was real and the brothers were his actual attackers.

NBC's Savannah Guthrie asked Smollett attorney Tina Glandian about the obvious discrepancy. "According to the court records, Smollett was clear with police on the night of the attack his attackers were white," she said. "Was that a false statement?"

"Just to be clear, he only saw one of the attackers, one of them he didn’t see," Glandian responded. "He saw one through a ski mask—again, he could not see their body, everything was covered—and he had a full ski mask on except the area around the eyes."

Glandian admitted though that Smollett did tell police his attacker had white or pale skin. "Why did he say that? He could have said 'I don't know,'" Guthrie said. "The Osundairo brothers, what are the chances that's the case? That he saw white skin?"

"There’s—obviously, you can disguise—you can put makeup on," Glandian said.

"You know, I was looking up the brothers and one of the first videos that showed up actually was one the brothers in whiteface doing a Joker monologue with white makeup on him," she continued. "So, it’s not implausible."