Photo: Chicago Police Department via Getty Images

Actor Jussie Smollett paid two men $3,500 to stage an assault he says was racist and homophobic because he was unhappy with his "Empire" salary, police said Thursday.

What they're saying: "[He] took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to advance his career," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said at a news conference.

Johnson said Smollett came up with the stunt for publicity one week after writing himself a threatening letter.

  • “I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” Johnson said.

Smollett, who is charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, denies staging the attack, which President Trump tweeted about Thursday morning.

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