Donald Trump Calls Jussie Smollett's False MAGA Story 'a Hate Crime in Reverse'

Former President Donald Trump has called actor Jussie Smollett a "con man" who was hoping to win sympathy by staging "a hate crime in reverse," after the former Empire star was found to have lied to police about an alleged attack.

Trump spoke to Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Friday and suggested that Smollett would have been imprisoned for 25 years for "hate crimes" if he were a Republican.

A jury on Thursday found Smollett guilty on five out of six counts of disorderly conduct for lying about the 2019 incident, finding he had made three false police reports.

He now faces up to three years in prison for each of the five counts—a possible 15-year sentence in total—though there is speculation that he will not serve prison time due to his lack of a criminal history.

On her show, The Ingraham Angle, producers played a montage of clips from other networks featuring figures linking Smollett's supposed attack to Trump.

"Mr. President, you just heard the left blame you back in 2019 for Jussie Smollett's phony race attack," Ingraham said.

"Of course, he was found guilty on five of the six accounts, lying to police," she said, asking Trump for his reaction to the criticism and the recent verdict.

"It's a disgrace what happened," Trump said. "He said MAGA country tried to hang him, that MAGA country was bad. And if somebody, if he were a Republican, if he were on the other side, he'd be in jail for 25 years for hate crimes."

Smollett had claimed the two men he accused of attacking him had yelled: "This is MAGA country!" The phrase "Make America Great Again" is intimately associated with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump noted that the two men had worn red hats like the famous "Make America Great Again" hats.

"And it turned out that they were - they were caught and they admitted everything," Trump said. "And that this even went to trial, it's so crazy what happened and he tried to get away. But the jury got it and they got it strong, and he was convicted almost all of the counts."

Those two men, brothers Abimbola and Ola Osundairo, testified against Smollett at his trial and said they had been paid $3,500 to carry out the attack in downtown Chicago. Smollett called the men "liars."

Trump and Ingraham briefly touched on the 2020 presidential election before the former president offered further criticism of Smollett.

"This was an absolute con job," Trump said. "He was a conman and he wanted to try and get sympathy so he could have his contract renewed for his ridiculous television series, but that didn't work out too well. And then on top of it, he got caught."

"And you know, it's interesting. He wouldn't have been caught except he pressed it all the way. He pressed it too far," Trump went on.

"He wanted apologies and everything else, and then the police came in. They did an amazing job and they caught him cold and he deserves it. But this is a hate crime. This is really a hate crime, sort of a hate crime in reverse and he's not going to get away with it," the former president said.

Photo Composite Shows Smollett and Trump
This composite photo shows actor Jussie Smollett and former President Donald Trump. Trump described Smollett's fake attack story as a "hate crime in reverse." Getty Images