The two brothers arrested last week in connection with the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett broke their silence with a statement Monday—but they didn't address reports that the Empire actor orchestrated the attack. "We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump," Ola and Abel Osundairo told CBS 2. "We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," said the brothers, who were described as Nigerian in earlier reports. Smollett told police that he was attacked in Chicago last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic insults before putting a rope around his neck and yelling: "This is MAGA country." One of the brothers is Smollett's personal trainer.
The brothers were released last week without being charged. Police said they provided information that changed the course of the investigation. Sources tell CBS 2 that Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 for the attack—and reimbursed them for the rope. One source says Smollett decided to orchestrate the attack because he didn't get a "bigger reaction" a week earlier when he received a letter containing a white powder—later found to be aspirin—and a threatening note in cut-out magazine letters. "When the letter didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack," the source says. Evidence seized from the brothers' home includes a magazine and stamps. TMZ, which said Sunday that the case could be headed to a grand jury soon, reports that as suspicion Smollett staged the attack grows, his Empire screen time has been cut, with several scenes and a musical number axed from the episode currently being filmed. (Read some of the reaction to the shifting story here.)