Democratic lawmakers who jumped to promote actor Jussie Smollett's claim that he was assaulted by two men shouting racist and anti-gay slurs have stayed largely mum as his story fell apart and law enforcement officials charged the actor for allegedly orchestrating the attack.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, claimed he was attacked by two masked men early on Jan. 29 as he walked to his Chicago apartment from a Subway restaurant.
But on Wednesday night, Smollett was arrested after Chicago Police charged the actor for allegedly “filing a false police report.” At a stunning press conference Thursday, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson questioned how someone could "slap everyone in this city by making this false claim."
Many of the politicians who first weighed in on Smollett's claims have yet to amend their statements.
When the incident was first reported last month, Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both 2020 presidential hopefuls, likened the alleged attack to a “modern day lynching” on Twitter.
Harris tweeted last month that Smollett is “one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know” and that the attack was “an attempted modern day lynching,” while Booker called the alleged incident “vicious,” and also called it a “modern-day lynching.”
Booker and Harris did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Thursday when asked if they planned to update their previous statements.
Earlier this week, when asked if she wanted to amend her tweet, Harris said: “Which tweet? Which tweet?” The reporter specified the tweet in question, as Harris appeared to look around for a campaign staffer before responding.
“OK, so, I will say this about that case,” she said. “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.”
When asked Sunday about the case, Booker told reporters that he would withhold comment “until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.”
Meanwhile, other Democrats, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth; Reps. Frederica Wilson, Rashida Tlaib, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, Sheila Jackson Lee; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez all jumped to Smollett’s defense upon the initial reports.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted last month, “There is no such thing as ‘racially charged.’ This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.”
Only Pelosi, D-Calif., who initially called the alleged incident a “racist, homophobic attack” and an “affront to our humanity,” as well as Schiff and Durbin have deleted their tweets.
Smollett's attorneys, Todd S. Pugh, and Victor P. Henderson, had vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax.
"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 lawyers said in a weekend statement. “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.”
In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, Smollett's attorneys said the actor "enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked."
Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Samuel Chamberlain, and Mike Tobin contributed to this report.