breaking his silence
February 1, 2019

Empire star Jussie Smollett is speaking out for the first time since he was assaulted in what police are treating as a possible hate crime.

Smollett in a statement released to Essence on Friday said that he's "OK" and that "my body is strong but my soul is stronger." He expressed his gratitude for the "outpouring of love and support" he has received since Chicago police said he was assaulted by two men who screamed racist and homophobic slurs at him, also covering him with a chemical substance believed to be bleach and tying a rope around his neck. Smollett later told police that the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country," reports NBC News.

Smollett said he is "working with authorities and [has] been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level" and that while "certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations" have been reported, "I still believe that justice will be served." Police had said on Thursday that Smollett declined to turn over phone records, which they were interested in because he said he was on a call with his manager at the time of the assault, NBC News reports.

"As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers, and non-gender conforming siblings daily," Smollett wrote. "I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident." While saying he will go into more detail about the incident once he has had time to process, he ended on the note that "during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It's all I know. And that can't be kicked out of me." Brendan Morrow

December 14, 2018

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is speaking out in his first televised interview since being sentenced to three years in prison.

Cohen told ABC News Friday that "of course" Trump knew that making hush money payments to two women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, was wrong. But Cohen says his boss instructed him to silence the women, who have alleged they had affairs with Trump before he ran for president. Trump denies their allegations. "I knew what I was doing was wrong," Cohen also said.

Referring to Trump's claim that the payments were made without his knowledge, Cohen said, "I don't think there is anybody that believes that ... He directed me to make the payments."

Trump has additionally argued that the payments were not campaign contributions, but Cohen tells ABC that they were specifically made to "help [Trump] and his campaign.”

Cohen regrets giving loyalty to Trump, who "truthfully does not deserve loyalty," he said. When ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Cohen why people should believe him now when he has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, Cohen responded that prosecutors have a "substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth," adding that he's "done with the lying."

Speaking more about his former boss, Cohen observed that Trump is now a "very different individual" than in the past because the "pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be." Watch a portion of Cohen's interview with ABC below. Brendan Morrow

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