TMZ reports on the probable inspiration for Smollett's staged attack

[Mandatory disclaimer: Jussie Smollett, like all defendants, is entitled to the presumption of innocence in his forthcoming trial[s].  The following analysis is based on the assumption that the evidence presented by assistant state's attorney Risa Lanier is valid and that the charges against him are true.  Registered voters in Cook County, who are members of his potential jury pool, are strongly cautioned that reading further may make them ineligible to sit in judgment of him at trial.]

If you thought Jussie Smollett's plot couldn't get even more despicable, think again.  It's pretty clear that whatever his merits as an actor (I wouldn't know, having never watched Empire), he is not too bright, what with paying his conspirators by check.  So that raises the question of whether or not he thought up the script for his staged attack on his own.  Now comes word via TMZ:

Jussie Smollett might have gotten the idea to stage his own attack after Lee Daniels talked about his cousin getting assaulted because he's gay ... at least that's what some members of the "Empire" cast think.

Sources close to the "Empire" production tell TMZ ... some cast members think Jussie's gears started grinding in his head days after Lee posted a video on Instagram on January 10 calling out homophobia.  In that same post, the "Empire" creator captioned it, "This past week my cousin was beat up for being gay and I am sick of hearing these stories."

Our sources say Lee then showed up to the set and shared more about the story.  Everyone was visibly upset that Lee's family had gone through this horrific ordeal.  The sources now say this might have been where Jussie got the idea to take matters into his own hands ... and become an LGBT hero.

This highly manipulative maneuver worked — at first.  In a story dated January 29:

Lee Daniels is speaking out in defense of Jussie Smollett, and nearly broke down in tears while telling the star he did not deserve to have a noose put around his neck.

The "Empire" co-creator just took to social media after Smollett was brutally attacked in an alleged homophobic and racial tirade.

"You didn't deserve this," Daniels says, adding, "Nor anybody deserves to have a noose put around your neck ... to have bleach thrown on you."

But since the fraud was exposed, Daniels and many others involved with the show have changed their tunes.  Via TMZ on February 22:

We're told many of the "Empire" actors are "f‑‑‑‑‑‑ furious" and feel if FOX honchos don't fire Jussie, he should quit on his own ... because he doesn't deserve a spot on the hit show.

The feelings of animosity stem from the fact everyone on set had Jussie's back after the "attack," but in light of the new evidence police have laid out ... many of them feel hurt and embarrassed.

We're told almost everyone on set is worried about how Smollett's damaged the show's reputation ... and could continue to do so if he remains part of the cast.

Now, our sources say there are still some cast and crew members who believe Jussie's telling the truth because they can't fathom him pulling off a hoax like this.  We're told arguments have erupted over how best to handle the situation.

Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer all signed off on the order to cut Smollett for the remainder of the season in the wake of his arrest for allegedly grand scheming his racist attack.

Until he decides to fess up instead of denying that he staged the attack, we probably won't know the source of inspiration for the script he wrote and enacted with his two associates.  But choosing the scenario in hope of manipulating his boss just makes the fraud all the more craven.

I still think his allegations that Trump-supporters were responsible was a feature, not an incidental detail.  He was manipulating Hollywood and political figures, like his good friend Kamala Harris and virtually everyone who spoke about politics at the Oscars last night, by pandering to their hatred of the president and his supporters.

As this story develops, who will be left defending Jussie?  His family?  Isn't it time for intervention by those who love him out of blood ties?