Don Lemon Fails To Mention Involvement in Jussie Smollett Case While Discussing Verdict

CNN host Don Lemon discussed the Jussie Smollett verdict on his show last night, but failed to acknowledge claims he tipped the former Empire actor off that police did not believe his version of events.

On Thursday, a Chicago jury found actor Smollett guilty on five of six charges relating to falsely reporting a hate crime. Smollett had alleged he was attacked by two men in 2019 in a racist and homophobic attack.

Smollett was subsequently accused of paying brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo $3,500 to help stage the attack. The siblings have been accused by the actor's defense team of asking for $1 million each to not testify that the alleged attack was a hoax.

During the court case, Smollett claimed that Lemon sent him a message saying police did not believe his account of the attack. This revelation sparked questions of propriety from Lemon and suggestions that CNN should consider suspending him.

During his show, Don Lemon Tonight, on Thursday evening, he spoke with criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson and discussed the ongoing trial.

During this segment Lemon did not mention his involvement or relationship with Smollett. Jackson went into detail as to why Smollett was found guilty and how his story was dismantled.

Speaking to Lemon, he said: "It is about a narrative that makes sense.

"We lawyers when we go before juries and we pick them we say always use your common sense and good judgment.

"When you weave a web and tell a tale and it doesn't make sense it becomes problematic. I think that is what happens here, Mr. Smollett's narrative did not carry the day.

"As a result of that, the jury discerned that something was amiss and they found him accountable."

Legal experts have also weighed in on whether Lemon could face any significant consequences if it is found to be true that he messaged Smollett about the police.

San Francisco-based attorney-at-law Marc Pelta told Newsweek: "I would not see any criminal liability for Don Lemon telling Jussie that the cops did not believe him."

He did note that Lemon could face an issue with CNN if these actions were against his terms of employment.

Pelta continued: "For instance, does Lemon have a contract with CNN that prohibits from him sharing such information about a developing story with the subject of the investigation? Was Lemon trying to help Smollett just as [Chris] Cuomo was trying to help his ex-governor brother?

"This could be nothing more than one friend looking out for another, while potentially having civil liability ramifications, again, depending on the terms of the contract, and which jurisdiction's law would apply to such issues.

"I do not know where Lemon signed the contract or to which jurisdiction the contractual terms would even apply. There are some important unanswered questions here."

Newsweek has reached out to CNN for comment.

Jussie Smollett and Don Lemon
Actor Jussie Smollett after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Don Lemon attends the 46th Chaplin Award Gala Honoring Spike Lee on September 09, 2021 in New York City. Don Lemon did not mention his comments to Smollet during his show on December 9. Nuccio DiNuzzo and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images