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February 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The 'homophobic,' pro-Trump assault of openly-homosexual Jussie Smollett that gripped the mainstream media never happened, according to Chicago police and prosecutors who are charging the Empire actor with staging the incident for publicity and career advancement.

The 36-year-old actor says he was assaulted in Chicago on January 29, when two masked men allegedly shouted racial and 'homophobic' epithets, beat him to the point of fracturing a rib, put a rope around his neck, and poured bleach on him. “This is MAGA country,” they allegedly yelled, a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Numerous Democrats, liberal media figures, and Smollett himself aggressively pushed the narrative that the incident was part of a wave of hate inspired by the president. But critics immediately questioned the likelihood of violent Trump supporters roaming around the streets of strongly-Democratic Chicago, suspicions that intensified after police failed to find video of the attack among hundreds of hours of footage from cameras near where the actor says it happened, and Smollett only gave police “limited and redacted” phone records.

Two potential “attackers” were soon identified, but rather than pro-Trump whites they were a pair of Nigerian brothers with ties to Empire. It was then reported that police suspected Smollett of paying them to stage the attack, and now Smollett has officially been charged with filing a false police report, Variety reports.

The actor has a bond hearing scheduled for Thursday. The Associated Press adds that Smollett has turned himself in, and if convicted he could face up to three years in prison as well as having to reimburse the investigation costs.

“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said at a press conference Thursday, ABC News reports. “Why would anyone especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? … How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?”

Johnson said Smollett was motivated to fake the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” It was previously reported that Smollett feared he was going to be cut from the show, which Fox initially denied, though The Wrap later reported his scenes had been reduced for the remainder of the current season. Police also believe Smollett sent himself a fake threatening letter with white powder, and escalated to the fake assault when the letter didn’t get the reaction he wanted.

“I'm offended by what happened and I'm angry,” Johnson said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve.”

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson responded in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

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