Actor Jussie Smollett, on trial for allegedly orchestrating a hate crime against himself, said under oath Monday that he spoke with CNN anchor Don Lemon early on during the Chicago Police Department’s investigation into the alleged hate crime attack.
The 39-year-old Smollett said in his court testimony that he received a text from Lemon, who supposedly informed the "Empire" star that the CPD did not believe his attack occurred the way he described it, Fox News’ Matt Finn reported.
Following the 2019 incident, Lemon told his viewers that the story was "personal" because he and Smollett had been acquaintances and communicated frequently since the alleged attack. Lemon also said at the time that Smollett had told him his account of what happened to him, which the CNN host admitted raised a number of questions.
Lemon emphasized that while Smollett is "innocent until proven guilty," he still “squandered the good will of a whole lot of people" if his story was fabricated.
"He even lied to a lot of people… including me. And that’s not cool," Lemon told his viewers at the time. "He squandered the good will of very high-profile people who one day may be running this country like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and people like President Trump."
Smollett also testified Monday that an appearance on "Good Morning America" was heavily edited, saying of the interview that "Every breath, every emotion is chopped so you really can’t understand it."
The actor was pressed about his injuries as well, to which he maintains that they were legitimate.
"I have a scar under my eye that has not healed… my injuries were real," Smollett reportedly said when asked by a prosecutor if he remembers the Northwestern doctor, who was a defense witness, saying that Smollett endured no injuries. "I remember him saying the facial injuries were real…"
Smollett is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making six false police reports about the alleged attack. The class 4 felony carries a three-year maximum prison sentence, but experts have said that Smollett would likely only be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service if convicted.