8:30 PM PT — Jussie's legal team released a statement, lashing out at the reports he paid the Usondairo brothers. “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," the statement began.
Smollett's attorneys said, "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."
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video," the statement continued, adding, "It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity."
The Jussie Smollett story has taken an unexpected turn after new reports claim the "Empire" star paid the brothers to participate in a staged attack.
News regarding the ongoing investigation is being reported by many local reporters in Chicago, who have been hammering the story since it first broke.
CBS correspondent Carter Evans is reporting that Ola and Abel Usondairo, who have been released from custody, told police that Smollett paid them to participate in an alleged attack, and that the two brothers purchased the rope found on the actor's neck.
CNN also reports two law enforcement sources believe Smollett paid the Nigerian men to orchestrate the attack.
As The Blast reported, the Usondairo brothers are friends of Smollett, and have even given him shout-outs on their social media pages. Whether they received any money from the actor has not been confirmed, but as we reported, they both filed for bankruptcy a few years back.
Since Smollett appeared on "Good Morning America" this week with Robin Roberts and scolded those who questioned his story, he has hired a criminal defense attorney. Page Six is reporting the actor has retained attorney Michael Monico, who also represents Donald Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen.
There were reports earlier in the week that Smollett's story may be a hoax, but Chicago Police have shot down those rumors and still identify him as a victim.
According to reporter Rafer Weigel, detectives have reached back out to Smollett's attorney after releasing the Osundairo brothers from custody and expressed an interested in speaking with the star again.