Jussie Smollett on Tuesday pushed back during a heated cross-examination with prosecutors who claimed the Empire actor, who is accused of staging a hate crime, purposely identified one of the alleged attackers as white to better sell the story.

Special prosecutor Daniel Webb claimed Smollett orchestrated the Jan. 29, 2019, attack on himself as part of a publicity stunt, which Smollett has categorically denied.

"Did you think by saying that the people that attacked you were white, it would lend credibility to a fake hate crime?" Webb asked.

Smollett replied tersely, "You'd have to ask someone that did a fake hate crime."


Tuesday was Smollett's second day on the witness stand, and his testimony took on a much more heated tone than the day before.

Smollett is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to police. Smollett, who is black and gay, told authorities that two men beat him up, threw an unknown substance at him, tied a noose around his neck, and shouted, "This is MAGA country," a reference to former President Donald Trump's slogan.

Prosecutors say he recruited and paid Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo $3,500 to carry out the attack.

On the stand, Webb focused on what happened in the days leading up to the incident. Prosecutors claim Smollett carried out a dry run two days before the incident took place.

Webb also focused on messages Smollett sent on the evening of Jan. 28, when his flight from New York to Chicago had been delayed.

Smollett admitted to contacting Abimbola Osundairo several times to let him know about the delay, but he insisted it wasn't because the plan had to be pushed back. Instead, he said he contacted him to plan a workout session.

Smollett also confirmed that he'd told police he thought his attackers were white but referred to them as "pale" later on and confirmed he told ABC News's Robin Roberts that had he "described the attacker as a Muslim or black, I wouldn't have so many people questioning me about it."

Tuesday's testimony also saw a series of contentious exchanges between Webb and Smollett, including one in which Webb read one of Smollett's Instagram messages to Abimbola Osundairo.

“Mr. Webb, with all due respect you don’t understand Instagram,” Smollett said as he tried to explain the difference between responding to an Instagram "story" versus an independent direct message.

“I don’t understand Instagram,” Webb said, later adding, “If you could answer your questions and not volunteer answers, I would be grateful.”

Smollett responded, “I’m sure you would.”


At one point, Webb read out loud one of the messages that Smollett wrote that included racially charged language, but Smollett cut him off.

“Can you just say ‘the N-word’ or spell the word?” Smollett said. “Out of respect for every African American here.”

Closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning.