Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lashed out at actor Jussie Smollett over allegations he staged an assault to boost his salary on “Empire,” saying the incident could hurt other people’s legitimate claims of discrimination.

“What about the person in the workplace facing discrimination, racial discrimination? What about the young man who’s dealing with his own sexual orientation and is attacked for it in high school or some school who’s now going to doubt whether people are going to believe him?” Emanuel said in an appearance on CNN on Thursday.

“You have put all those real stories at risk for your fake story. That is not right,” Emanuel continued. 


“If you want to get paid more, get an agent. But don’t use your sexual orientation, don’t use your race and have everybody’s sympathies, and it turns out none of that was true.” 

Smollett, who is black and gay, was arrested Thursday on allegations that he paid two brothers $3,500 to stage an assault on him. Following the alleged January incident, Smollett had said assailants shouted racial and homophobic slurs and poured a chemical on him. 

On Thursday, he was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report and could face one to three years in prison. He was released on $100,000 bail and was forced to relinquish his passport.

The controversy has ignited political debate, with several high-profile politicians condemning Smollett’s alleged actions.

“What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” President TrumpDonald John TrumpPresenting the 2020 Democratic bracket The time has come for the Democrats to act, finally DHS expedites border wall replacement in Arizona, Texas MORE tweeted following the arrest, citing Smollett’s claims that the assailant shouted “This is MAGA country” during the attack.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPresenting the 2020 Democratic bracket Biden to face pressure on Medicare for All Trump criticizes 2020 Democratic candidates MORE (D-Calif.), who initially referred to the attack as a “modern day lynching,” said she was “sad, frustrated and disappointed” following the arrest, and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' Eight 2020 Dems to meet at 'She the People' forum Gabbard: Trump, Pence 'try to hide the truth' of Saudi-inspired terrorist attacks from Christian supporters MORE (D-Hawaii) called for Smollett to be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law” if found guilty.

Both women have entered the 2020 Democratic primary to run for president.