The FBI is working with the U.S. Postal Service to determine whether Empire actor Jussie Smollett sent himself a threatening letter in the days before the “hate crime” he is now under investigation for allegedly staging, two federal officials told ABC News Tuesday.
The two Nigerian brothers who told Chicago Police last week that Smollett paid them to stage a racially motivated attack on him have also told the authorities that Smollett sent himself the threatening letter that arrived on the Empire set on January 22, just seven days before they claim they conducted the hoax attack.
The brothers, one of whom worked as an extra on Empire, reportedly claimed that Smollett was motivated to stage the attack after his coworkers’ reaction to the letter did not live up to his expectations.
The letter, which was accompanied by crushed up aspirin, is now being analyzed at an FBI crime lab.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo agreed to cooperate with police last week after they were presented with evidence that they purchased the rope that Smollett claimed was placed around his neck by two attackers who yelled racist and homophobic slurs before shouting “this is MAGA country” as they fled.
Smollett’s attorneys maintain that he was attacked and have denied that he was complicit in staging the assault.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”