Sharpton joined us on "TMZ Live" to talk about what happened to his friend and said he doesn't blame Trump for the homophobic, racially-charged attack. However, Sharpton said the President should strongly denounce the attackers to make it crystal clear his slogan shouldn't be used as a battle cry for hate crimes.
As we first reported ... 2 men attacked Smollett at around 2 AM in Chicago and put his head in a noose and doused him in bleach. Jussie's reps say the men screamed, "This is MAGA country" as they fled the scene.
Sharpton told us, if Trump doesn't deliver a stern message to his nearly 58 million followers on Twitter condemning the attack ... "his silence would be very, very deafening."