A prosecutor argued that Jussie Smollett staged a “fake hate crime” against himself as the former “Empire” actor's trial began on Monday.
“When he reported the fake hate crime that was a real crime,” special prosecutor Dan Webb said, according to The Associated Press.
Webb argued that the actor hired two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, to stage a fake attack against him.
Webb said that Smollett conducted a “dress rehearsal” and told the brothers to shout "MAGA," a reference to former President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE’s campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
Webb also told the jury that the actor directed the brothers to use racial and homophobic slurs against Smollett, who is Black and gay, in addition to telling them to purchase ski masks, red hats and “a rope to make it look like a hate crime,” the AP reported.
At the time of the incident in 2019, Smollett reported what happened to Chicago police, claiming he was attacked by Trump supporters. The police classified the incident as a hate crime and spent 3,000 staff hours investigating the situation, the AP added.
Meanwhile, Nenye Uche, Smollett's attorney, argued that Smollett's payment to the brothers was compensation for training for an upcoming music video. He claimed that not a "shred" of evidence connected Smollett to the crime, according to the wire service.
“Jussie Smollett is a real victim,” Uche said, per the AP.
It is unclear if Smollett will take the stand at his trial. The brothers who were involved will testify, though Uche told the jury “they are going to lie to your face.”
Judge James Linn expects the trial, which is taking place in Chicago, to last roughly a week.
The actor has pleaded not guilty to staging the attack and faces up to three years in prison.