Trump calls the Jussie Smollett case "a disgrace to our nation" pic.twitter.com/CUkIJtgOxt— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) April 28, 2019
Trump claimed he never heard the term "MAGA country" before hearing Smollett's claims about being assaulted by two men who yelled "MAGA."
"It's MAGA country. I didn't hear that term until that third rate actor in Chicago went out and said I was beaten up by MAGA country, can you believe it?" Trump said.
"That's a hate crime, he said he was beaten up by MAGA country, turned out to be a total lie," Trump continued, without referencing Smollet by name. "MAGA... Make America Great Again. And by the way, I have to tell you, that case in Chicago is a disgrace to our nation. A disgrace."
In late January, Smollett claimed he was assaulted by two men wearing red Make America Great Again hats on his way back to his Chicago apartment. The actor said the two men yelled homophobic and racist slurs, put a noose around his neck and threw an unspecified substance at him.
However, Chicago police accused Smollett of staging the attack because he was unhappy with his Empire salary. Prosecutors charged him with 16 felonies related to lying to police.
On March 26, all charges were surprisingly dropped and the case was closed after Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and completed community service.
The Chicago government has asked Smollett to repay more than $130,000 for the cost of investigating his claims, but he has refused to do so. Earlier this month, the city filed a lawsuit against him, and Smollett could also face federal charges.
Smollett stood by his story, and members of the Empire cast reportedly sent a letter to FOX executives asking for Smollett to return to the show if it is renewed for another season.
"I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one," Smollett said in a press conference in March. "I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I've been accused of."
Trump's comments Saturday night was not the first time he criticized Smollett. In March, he said the FBI and Justice Department should look into the case.
On Feb. 21, Trump tagged Smollett, adding, "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comment?"
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images