House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team was caught by People Magazine quietly trying to delete a tweet made on January 30th in support of actor Jussie Smollett.
Over the weekend, a tweet calling the alleged attack on Smollett an example of racism and homophobia quietly disappeared from Pelosi’s timeline. It was deleted after Chicago police confirmed that “developments” had taken their investigation in a new direction.
Of course, Pelosi isn’t the only one suddenly backtracking after the alleged hate crime attack has turned out to be a hoax.
The national outrage that simmered after Smollett said he was attacked by supporters of President Donald Trump, who were shouting racial and anti-gay slurs, was fueled by Democrats and Hollywood celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media.
“The racist, homophobic attack on @JussieSmollett is an affront to our humanity,” Pelosi wrote on Jan. 30, before she quietly had it deleted off her social media timeline. “No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once & for all.”
Pelosi’s office confirmed that the speaker wanted the tweet deleted, and was now asking that everyone wait for evidence before rushing to judgement.
“Given the turn in the investigation, we decided to no longer amplify the original accusation,” Pelosi’s spokesman said. “Following the conclusion of the ongoing investigation, we will comment further.”
Outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors and liberal politicians who came out in support of the “Empire” star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment.
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The narrative that just a week ago seemed cut-and-dry has become messy and divisive — and it’s all playing out again on social media.
Smollett, who is black and gay, said he was physically attacked last month by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!”— a reference to the Make America Great Again slogan used in Trump’s election campaign. Smollett said the attackers looped a rope around his neck before running away as he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant.
Liberals ate the story up. They called the alleged hate crime a microcosm for the racist ills of America in 2019 and how intolerance can lead to violent acts. Smollett’s own celebrity and activism for the rights of the LGBTQ community helped raise the profile of the case even more.
But then published reports emerged that police believe Smollett may have staged the attack — something the actor has vehemently denied through his lawyers — or that a grand jury may hear evidence in the case. The reports cited unidentified police sources.
On Saturday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the trajectory of the case had “shifted” — that two brothers who had been questioned had been released without charges and investigators wanted to speak to Smollett again . Guglielmi did not elaborate. On Sunday, he issued a statement saying that police “are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released.”
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Smollett’s attorneys said Saturday that he would continue to cooperate with police but that he felt victimized by the suggestion he played a role in his attack.
Skeptics, including conservative pundits Dinesh D’Souza and Tomi Lahren, seized on the doubts that have arisen.
Desperate for attention? Stage an attack on yourself and blame it on Trump supporters.
Why did Jussie do it? He knew the Left wouldn’t question him. He knew they’d be gunning for another reason to hate white Trump supporters.
It’s wrong, but not surprising. That’s the Left.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 18, 2019
When Smollett first reported that he was assaulted, Democratic New Jersey senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker called it a “modern-day lynching.”
On Sunday, though, he said it was important would reserve judgment “until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.”
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Booker famously led the attack on Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation hearings last fall. Booker famously said anyone that asking for evidence regarding Kavanaugh’s accusations were “complicit in evil.”
Another 2020 Democratic hopeful, Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, said it was critical to “confront this hate” when the unverified accusation by Smollett was first made public.
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
When asked on Sunday, Harris suddenly claimed she couldn’t remember her original tweet and laughed about it.
“OK, so, I will say this about that case,” Harris told Fox News. “I think that the facts are still unfolding, and, um, I’m very, um, concerned about obviously, the initial, um, allegation that he made about what might have happened.
“And it’s something we should all take seriously whenever anyone, um, alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation,” Harris added. “And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment. But I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article