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the drama continues
April 23, 2019

The two brothers who say Jussie Smollet hired them to orchestrate a fake hate crime are now suing the actor's lawyers for defamation.

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Empire star's legal team, per the Chicago Tribune. The complaint says that even after the charges against Smollet were dropped in March, his lawyers insisted publicly that the brothers led the attack, making these allegations "knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollet's farce and to promote themselves."

The brothers again allege in the suit that the attack was "a hoax entirely conceived and directed by Mr. Smollett," who "wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful black, openly gay actor." It also claims the brothers have lost work as a result of the allegations from Smollet and his lawyers. Chicago police had previously accused Smollet of hiring the Osundairos to help him orchestrate the alleged hoax, while Smollet's lawyers said he only paid them to help him train for a music video.

Smollett had initially been indicted on 16 felony counts, but all charges against him were dropped in March. One of the prosecutors involved said he still didn't doubt that Smollett is guilty, though. Having maintained his innocence throughout, Smollett said after being cleared that he was "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one." Brendan Morrow

May 18, 2017

Several weeks after his inauguration, President Trump contacted James Comey, then the FBI director, and asked him when federal authorities planned on spreading the word that he was not personally under investigation, two people with knowledge of the call told The New York Times.

This was one of several interactions that Comey believed jeopardized the FBI's independence, the Times reports, and he instructed the president on the proper way to receive details about investigations: Have the White House counsel send inquiries to the Department of Justice. At the time, Comey was overseeing the investigation into ties between Trump associates and Russia, and two incidents concerned him, friends said: During a dinner, Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty, and in a meeting at the Oval Office, Trump said he hoped the Russia-linked investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, would be canceled; Trump denies this happened. The Times also reports that the day after Trump talked to Comey about Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey to assist with pushing back against reports that during the campaign, Trump associates had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey's and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, spoke with the Times, and said during a lunch in March, Comey told him he had spent the previous two months trying to teach the White House how to properly interact with the bureau. Comey was afraid people would think he was becoming friendly with the new president, Wittes said, and even went so far as trying to blend into the curtains in the White House's Blue Room during an event so Trump wouldn't spot him and call him out (he did). Comey also told Wittes that on March 1, the White House called him and said Trump needed to speak with him "urgently." It turned out Trump "just wanted to chitchat," Wittes said, and Comey took the call to mean Trump was still "trying to get him on the team and he saw it in light of his refusal to give him his loyalty." Catherine Garcia

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