A Democratic lawmaker who called the alleged hate crime attack against Jussie Smollett a “modern-day lynching” now says that he is withholding judgement in the case amid reports that authorities believe the “Empire” actor orchestrated a hoax.

The New Jersey Democrat, Cory Booker, told reporters he is reserving judgment after new reports about the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. When Smollett initially reported that he was attacked by two men who yelled homophobic and racial slurs, Booker called the incident a “modern-day lynching.”

“Well, the information is still coming out, and I’m going to withhold until all the information comes out,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 presidential candidate, told reporters Sunday when asked about his past remarks on the Smollett case.

“The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe,” Booker wrote on Jan. 29.

In Chicago over the weekend, police said their investigation had “shifted” after detectives questioned two brothers about the attack and released them without charges. Smollett’s lawyers said late Saturday that the actor felt “victimized” by reports that he played a role in the assault and would continue to cooperate with police.

Booker told reporters in Rochester, New Hampshire, that he was waiting “until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.” He urged a broader fight against hate crimes and called for a unified pushback against “attacks on people because they’re different.”

Asked by a voter at an event in Manchester about so-called Medicare for All, Booker said passing such a bill in the Senate would require the difficult task of rounding up 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. Otherwise, he said, “we’ve got to be ready to take the pathways” that get as far as possible toward universal health insurance coverage.

Liberal activists have called on Democrats to consider eliminating the Senate procedural tool to make ambitious legislation easier for a future Democratic president to pass. Booker, however, has spoken in favor of preserving the filibuster.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., center right, embraces a person in the audience after making remarks during a campaign stop, Sunday, Feb. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., center right, embraces a person in the audience after making remarks during a campaign stop, Sunday, Feb. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)