The Good Morning America co-host -- who interviewed Smollett on Feb. 14, his first and only on-camera interview about the incident -- called it a "setback for race relations." Meanwhile, Smollett has maintained he was a victim and did not orchestrate the alleged attack.
"This touches all the buttons," Roberts said on Thursday's 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."
Roberts also explained the timing of their sit-down.
“At that time, on Tuesday, police officers 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."
CBS News reported on Saturday that Abel and Ola Osundairo -- brothers of Nigerian descent who were previously arrested last week and then released without charges -- claimed to police after their home was raided that Smollett knows them and further alleged that the actor "paid them to participate in the alleged attack." Smollett has vehemently denied this accusation through his lawyers. According to the brothers' attorney, Ola worked as an extra on Empire in season two, while Abel was Smollett's personal trainer.
Smollett was taken into custody early Thursday morning and faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. In a statement to ET, Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams told Roberts on Thursday that her interview with Smollett will be significant evidence in the ongoing case.
For more on Roberts' interview with Smollett, watch the video below: