White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden’s past comments on Jussie Smollett on Friday, saying everyone “learned a lesson.”
Reporters pressed Psaki on whether there was anything to learn for Smollett’s guilty verdict on Thursday given that both Biden and Harris had condemned the hoax attack at the time. Psaki stated that former President Donald Trump had also condemned the incident at the time, but conceded that everyone had a lesson to learn, before going on to condemn Smollett. (RELATED: Here Are The High-Profile Democrats And Celebs Who Fell For Jussie Smollett’s Hate Crime Hoax)
“Both the president and vice president tweeted at the time of the attack,” a reporter stated. “The president tweeted ‘What happened to Jussie Smollett must never be tolerated in this country. We’re with you Jesse.’ The vice president called it an ‘attempted modern day lynching.’ Since the guilty verdict, are there any lessons learned here on rushing to judgment when a crime is alleged?”
“There are lessons learned perhaps for everybody who commented at the time, including former President Trump … where he said ‘I can tell you that it’s horrible. It doesn’t get worse,’ in response to [April Ryan’s] question about Jussie Smollett at the time,” Psaki said. “I would say that we respect the jury’s decision. Lying to the police, particularly about something as heinous as a hate crime is shameful. Instances of that need to be investigated fully, and those found guilty need to be punished.”
“False accusations divert valuable police resources away from important investigations, they make it harder for real victims to come forward and be believed,” she added.
An Illinois court found Smollett guilty on five counts of lying to police officers on Thursday.
Smollett had claimed in 2018 that he had been attacked at 2 a.m. outside in Chicago. He claimed to police that two men had beaten him, yelled racial slurs, poured bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck and then left him in the street. He had in fact planned the attack with the two men as a hoax, however.
The two brothers who carried out the “attack” testified in court that Smollett had paid them $3,500, though Smollett claimed the payment was for a meal plan and personal training.