A spokesperson for Pelosi said her team decided to "no longer amplify the original accusation" as the investigation shifts direction

By Rachel DeSantis
February 18, 2019 01:59 PM
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deleted a tweet she’d shared in support of Jussie Smollett after Chicago police said there have been “developments” in the investigation into the alleged hate attack on the Empire actor.

Pelosi, 78, tweeted her disgust with the alleged attack on Jan. 29 after the Chicago Police Department said the Empire star was allegedly involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery.”

“The racist, homophobic attack on @JussieSmollett is an affront to our humanity,” she wrote on Jan. 30. “No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once & for all.”

But by Monday, the message had been scrubbed from her account — a move Pelosi’s team acknowledged in a statement to PEOPLE.

“As the Speaker who passed the fully inclusive Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, we spoke out because this appeared to be a deeply troubling incident of violence motivated against vulnerable communities,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Pelosi. “Given the turn in the investigation, we decided to no longer amplify the original accusation. Following the conclusion of the ongoing investigation, we will comment further. We should all be united in fighting racism and homophobia.”

Jussie Smollett
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In a statement released on Sunday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi acknowledged “developments” in the investigation.

“While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident,” said Guglielmi following multiple reports that police sources said authorities suspect Smollett, 36, orchestrated the attack on himself. Smollett has vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax.

Pelosi was not the only high-profile politician to weigh in. Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris, who both recently launched 2020 presidential campaigns, each called the alleged attack an “attempted modern-day lynching” on Twitter.

Both of their tweets remain, though Booker said this weekend he would withhold further comment “until all the information actually comes out from on the record sources,” according to CNN.

Guglielmi confirmed in a statement Friday that police had arrested and questioned two brothers in the case, but released them without charges.

“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Guglielmi said.

RELATED VIDEO: Jussie Smollett Breaks Down Over Fears His Apparent Hate Crime Attackers Will Never Be Found

Then, on Saturday, Guglielmi indicated that “trajectory of the investigation” had “shifted,” according to the Associated Press.

CBS Evening News, citing a police source, reported that the individuals in question were two brothers who claimed Smollett paid them to participate in the alleged incident.

CNN reported that the brothers were fully cooperating with authorities and that two law enforcement sources said police believe the men had been paid by the actor to carry out the attack.

Jussie Smollett
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Smollett responded to the reports with a statement released by his attorneys on Saturday, saying he was “angered and devastated.”

“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. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement read. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” his attorneys continued. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”

In a statement provided to PEOPLE, attorneys for Smollett denied reports claiming the star would be meeting with Chicago police on Monday.

“There are no plans for Jussie to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate,” the statement read. “Smollett’s attorneys will keep dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf. We have no further comment today.”