President Donald Trump says he’s seen the reports about the racially charged attack in Chicago on Empire actor Jussie Smollett and described what happened as “horrible.”
Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday (Jan. 31) that he saw the story the night before and that, “It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.” The president’s Trump International Hotel & Tower is in the general area where the attack took place.
Smollett, who is gay and black, told police that two masked men attacked him early Tuesday as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He says they beat him, hurled racial and homophobic insults at him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.
Police are gathering and reviewing video from scores of surveillance cameras in the area. They have recovered video that shows Smollett arriving home with a rope around his neck, but they have not found video of the attack itself.
They have also released photographs from videos of two people walking in the area about the time of the attack in the hopes that those people can be located and provide them more information about what happened.
Police spokesman Guglielmi also said Thursday that Smollett and his manager say they were talking on the phone when he was attacked at 2 a.m. Tuesday, but that Smollett has declined to hand his phone records to police.