Robin Roberts calls Jussie Smollett hoax a ‘setback for race relations’

A week after her candid interview with Jussie Smollett about the actor’s alleged attack, “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts has reacted to news of Smollett’s arrest. In a turn of events, Smollett was taken into police custody Thursday and is being charged with filing a false police report.

“This touches all the buttons,” Roberts said on-air during Thursday’s episode of “GMA.” “It’s a setback for race relations, homophobia, MAGA supporters. I cannot think of another case where there is this anger on so many sides, and you can understand why there would be.”

ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams informed Roberts that her interview with Smollett will likely be used as a piece significant evidence in the ongoing investigation.

Roberts went on to clarify the context for her original sit-down with Smollett.

“At the time, on Tuesday, police officer were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative,” Roberts said. “Now this was all before the interview aired on Thursday, and then we found out about the brothers.”

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Television presenter Robin Roberts arrives at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Robin Roberts arrives at her book signing for 'Everybody's Got Something' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/FilmMagic)
Television personality Robin Roberts arrives at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-ARRIVALS)
Robin Roberts (L) of ABC News and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama laugh as they participate in the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington June 23, 2014. President Barack Obama, as part of efforts to make the U.S. workplace more accommodating for employees with families, will on Monday direct federal agencies to step up efforts to give workers more leeway in determining their schedules. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Television personalities Robin Roberts and Patti Labelle are seen tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on July 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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20/20 - 'Robin's Journey,' A Special Edition of 20/20, takes viewers on a candid, inspiring and intimate journey inside Robin Roberts’ challenging fight against myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder. The hour, which includes private moments beginning with the pre-transplant treatment, through her time in the hospital, to her return to GMA, airs FRIDAY, FEB. 22 (10-11 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) ROBIN ROBERTS
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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Television personality Robin Roberts signs copies of her new book, 'Everybody's Got Something' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
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The brothers Roberts is referring to are Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were allegedly paid by Smollett to physically attack him and yell racist and homophobic slurs in the early hours of Jan. 29. Police said Smollett paid them $3,500 by check and promised to pay an added $500 after the incident.

After Smollett was arrested Thursday, Chicago Police officials concluded that Smollett orchestrated a hate crime against himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series “Empire.”

Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout, but the police made it clear on Thursday that they have no doubt that he set up the hoax.

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