The cross examination of Jussie Smollett (Update)

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Yesterday we got through the defense questioning of Jussie Smollett on the stand. Today, prosecutor Dan Webb is cross examining him and there have been some interesting moments during what is clearly a contentious back and forth between the two. There are no cameras allowed at this trial (the defense objected) so we can only rely on tweets from people who are in the courtroom. In this case, most of them come from Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner.


It sounds like Webb scored a point about the “dry run” of the attack, which took place the day before. He showed jurors video of Smollett’s car driving in circles around the area where the attack would later happen. Smollett has admitted both of the Osundairo brothers were in the car at the time though he denies they were planning an attack (as the brothers both claim). Smollett says the plan that day was for him to work out with Abel, only for reasons he can’t quite explain, Ola came along and no workout ever happened.

You did what now?

He circled the block three times but didn’t go to his house and instead decided to just drive back to where he picked up the Osundairo brothers. That does seem…odd.


Webb then moved on to the Instagram messages sent prior to the attack.

Then Smollett suddenly claimed the language in his own Instagram messages was too offensive to be read out loud.

And now we’re up to the final hours before the attack.


Smollett is clearly annoyed.

Smollett doesn’t want to answer questions directly, he wants to filibuster.

Ultimately, there were no messages about a workout the next morning and neither of the Osundairo brothers ever showed up for a workout.

Smollett says he didn’t recognize Bola’s voice during the attack but also that he’s not sure they were even there.


Now we’re coming to a big lie Smollett told the police about his attackers:

Pale? This claim is so silly that Smollett’s attorney had to claim in a news interview that the brothers may have been wearing whiteface makeup under their ski masks.

Webb wraps up by noting once again that the alleged workout that was the reason for all of Smollett’s late-night messages to the brothers never got canceled and yet never happened, almost like it was never planned in the first place.


Webb is also asking about Smollett’s injuries.

That’s where Webb wrapped up his cross-examination. After a short break, one of Smollett’s lawyers tried to clean up a few things.

Then Webb got back up for a few more questions.


And that’s it for Jussie Smollett’s testimony. He’s off the stand. The defense did call one other witness, an Uber driver who drove the brothers the night of the attack. And with that done the defense rested its case. Final arguments will take place tomorrow and then the jury will get the case.

It’s really hard to believe anyone on the jury could buy Smollett’s silly story. It’s so obviously full of holes and there is so much evidence that this was organized in advance by people he was friendly with. To me, one of the clearest indications this was a hoax is that both of the Osundairo brothers are huge, muscular guys. If they’d really wanted to beat up Jussie Smollett, he’d have sustained a lot more damage than an imperceptible scar under his eye. The fact that he only had a few bruises (and that he claimed his attackers were white were white, excuse me, pale) all suggests he’s lying.

But if you lived through the OJ Simpson trial you already know there’s no telling how willing a jury might be to overlook the facts when a famous figure is involved. In this case, the stakes aren’t as high. Even if Smollett is convicted he’ll probably get probation and never spend a day in jail. That’s unfortunate because this hoax was a really selfish attempt to help his career at the expense of an entire group of people who were smeared as the villains in his little drama. Mendacity like that really ought to be punished even if it’s just a slap on the wrist.


Update: Here’s the coda to this story.

Where is Flavor Flav when you need him? Fight the power, Jussie.

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