Chicago prosecutor under renewed scrutiny over Jussie Smollett case

Chicago prosecutor under renewed scrutiny over Jussie Smollett case

Chicago police union calls for federal probe into ‘highly, highly suspicious’ conduct of prosecutor who ‘intervened in the Jussie Smollett case on behalf of Michelle Obama’s ex-aide and texted the Empire star’s family’

  • Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is facing renewed scrutiny over her handling of Jussie Smollett’s case after his charges were dropped
  • Chicago police are furious about Tuesday’s decision to drop Smollett’s charges
  • Police are demanding that Foxx be investigated over her handling of the case 
  • The Fraternal Order of Police slammed Foxx’s conduct as ‘highly suspicious’ and accused her of political ‘interference’
  • They labelled the decision ‘utterly arbitrary, capricious and suspicious’ 
  • Foxx recused herself last month for exchanging texts with Smollett’s relative in the days after the attack
  • She tried to wrestle the case out of Chicago PD’s hands and have it led by the FBI
  • Foxx tried to steer the investigation in the direction the Smollett family wanted after being contacted by former Michelle Obama aide Tina Tchen   
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Chicago police are furious about Tuesday’s decision to drop Smollett’s charges and are demanding that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (above) be investigated over her handling of the investigation 

The Chicago police union has renewed its calls for federal probe into the ‘highly, highly suspicious’ conduct of the prosecutor who intervened in the Jussie Smollett case on behalf of Michelle Obama’s ex-aide and texted the Empire star’s family. 

Cops in the city are furious about Tuesday’s decision to drop Smollett’s charges and are demanding that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx be investigated over her handling of the probe. 

Foxx recused herself from the case last month for exchanging text messages with one of Smollett’s relatives in the days after the actor told police he was attacked on January 29.

Police have now renewed calls for Foxx to face an Attorney General investigation for trying to wrestle the case out of the Chicago Police Department’s hands and have it led by the FBI instead. 

The union, Fraternal Order of Police, slammed Foxx’s conduct as ‘highly suspicious’ and accused her of political ‘interference’ on behalf of the Smollett family. 

Authorities are concerned about whose interests Foxx was working in when she – after being contacted by former Michelle Obama aide Tina Tchen – tried to steer the investigation in the direction the Smollett family wanted. 

Foxx’s connections to Tchen and the Smollett family came under renewed scrutiny on Tuesday following the shock decision to drop all charges against the Empire actor. 


Prosecutors revealed on Tuesday that all charges against Jussie Smollett were being dropped. He had been facing up to 48 years behind bars on 16 felony counts of lying to police by claiming he was attacked on January 29 by two men in a race hate attack




The Smollett family enlisted the help of former Obama adviser Tina Tchen to try to get the investigation taken over by the FBI. Tchen got in touch with Foxx and then facilitated a relationship between her and one of Smollett’s relatives 

‘The conduct of her office from the very beginning of this cases was highly, highly suspicious,’ Martin Preib, the FOP’s vice president, told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

‘The entire country is outraged by it. The evidence is overwhelming that he was legitimately charged in this case. This decision appears to be utterly arbitrary, capricious and suspicious.

‘The entire country is getting a window into the absurdity of the Chicago political and legal system.’ 

Preib said he his own dark suspicions’ as to why the charges were dropped but added: ‘It’s not appropriate to give voice to them just yet’. 

It remains unclear what prompted the decision but the Cook County’s State’s Attorney’s office said it was due in part to Smollett’s ‘volunteer service in the community’.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson spoke of their shock and dismay at the State’s Attorney’s decision to drop all the charges against Smollett.

They said they were stunned to learn about it at the same time as the media and suggested that Smollett – who they insist is guilty – was treated differently because he is a star. 

Joe Magats, the Assistant State’s Attorney who took over the case when Foxx stepped aside, told the New York Times that they prioritized ‘violent crime’ and that Smollett’s alleged wrongdoing did not fall into that category. He warned that the decision to drop the charges did not exonerate him. 

The decision to drop the charges comes after texts emerged earlier this month that Foxx exchanged with Tchen and a relative of Smollett just hours after the attack. 

Foxx was contacted by Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff on February 1 on behalf of the Smollett family. 

Tchen, who has deep ties to Chicago politics and is friends with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wife, wanted her to convince Chicago PD to hand the investigation over to the FBI and Foxx agreed to try.

They were ‘concerned’ about details of the incident and Smollett’s reports to investigators being leaked and said that they wanted the FBI to handle the case. 

‘I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,’ she said in her first text which was obtained by The Chicago Sun Tribune. 


Foxx was contacted by former Michelle Obama aide Tina Tchen who wanted to try and steer the investigation in the direction the Smollett family wanted. Smollett is pictured above with the Obamas in the White House

Hours later, Foxx received a text from one of Smollett’s relatives. Over the course of the next two weeks, Foxx tried to have the case handed over to the FBI.

‘Spoke to the superintendent earlier. He is going to make the ask. Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted,’ Foxx said in a February 13 text.

By then, there had been questions surrounding Smollett’s cooperation with the investigation but the actor was, officially, still being treated as a victim.

The relative responded: ‘OMG this would be a huge victory.’

Foxx replied: ‘I make no guarantees but I’m trying.’

Later that day, she emailed Tchen saying: ‘Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get to me shortly.’

The police department claims that Smollett only became a suspect after Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osudairo were pinned down at the airport on February 20.

However, Foxx recused herself from the probe a week earlier, after her text conversation with his relative and with Tchen.

In an email to top staff, her chief ethics officer informed them of her recusal but it was not announced until February 19.

On February 20, Foxx’s office told DailyMail.com that she had stepped down because of her interaction with Smollett’s relatives, but they would not give further information.

Smollett was arrested on February 21. The investigation was then turned over to First Assistant Joe Magats and his staff after Foxx stepped aside.

The union which represents the police in Chicago sent a letter to the Attorney General last week demanding Foxx’s handling of the case be looked into. 

In its letter, union president Kevin Graham questioned who Foxx was working for and why it would have been a ‘victory’ in relation to the text exchange.

‘Victory of what? For whom? Why?’ the letter read. ‘In order for Ms Foxx to properly charge and try this case, her entire office should have recused itself and a special prosecutor been appointed.’  

In a letter dated March 15 he added: ‘Such conduct merits a review by your office. Private attorneys are not allowed to interfere with ongoing police investigations, particularly at the request of private individuals associated with subjects being investigated by the police, in this case, a subject later determined to be the offender, not the victim. 

‘According to the media reports on public documents, one of Smollett’s relatives was communicating with Ms. Foxx about her request to transfer the case to the FBI. 

‘As you probably also know, Ms. Foxx ultimately recused herself from this case as a prosecutor based on those communications with relatives of Jussie Smollett. That recusal is wholly insufficient. 

‘In order for Ms. Foxx to properly charge and try this case, her entire office should have recused itself and a special prosecutor been appointed.’ 


Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson (right) spoke of their shock and dismay on Tuesday at the State’s Attorney’s decision to drop all the charges against Smollett

Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted repeatedly at a Tuesday press conference that Smollett was guilty of staging a hoax attack on January 29 and that he did it for a raise on Empire, the Fox TV show in which he appears.

He slammed the Assistant State’s Attorney’s decision to drop the 16 felony charges Smollett was hit with by a grand jury – a move he said he took because Smollett is not a ‘violent threat’ to the community.

‘Without a doubt this is a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you are in a position of influence and power, you’ll be treated one way. 

‘It is wrong.’

He went on to condemn Smollett for speaking out after the court hearing and protesting his innocence.

  • Empire actor Jussie Smollett insists he has been truthful… ‘I do not believe he is innocent’: Prosecutor who dropped…

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‘Mr Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department… how dare him. How dare him after everybody saw. Is there no decency in this man?’

Johnson, who publicly condemned Smollett last month and said his lies were ‘despicable’, also slammed the star for asking that the evidence be sealed.

‘I would want my day in court to clear my name. They wanted their day in court with TV cameras,’ he said, referring to Smollett’s team’s eagerness to allow cameras in the courtroom. ‘(Now) they chose to hide behind secrecy.’

In a brief statement on Tuesday, Smollett gave no other explanation for the attack – which his personal trainers carried out on him – but said he had been truthful all along in his claims that he did not recognize them when they jumped him.

‘I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and world who have prayed for me, supported me and shown me love.

‘No one will ever know how much that has meant to me. Not for a moment was it in vain,’ he said.

Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack

‘Empire’ actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett told Chicago police in January that two men attacked him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs. Here are some key moments in the story:

January 22

– Smollett receives a racist and homophobic threatening letter at the studio in Chicago where ‘Empire’ is filmed. Police later say that they believe Smollett sent the letter himself.

January 29

– Jussie Smollett tells police he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while out getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2am. The actor says the men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an ‘unknown substance’ on him. Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, told detectives the attackers also yelled he was in ‘MAGA country,’ an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan.

January 30

– Chicago police say they’ve reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage, including of Smollett walking downtown, but none shows the attack. Police obtain and release images of two people they would like to question, calling them ‘persons of interest.’

– Reports of an assault on Smollett draw outrage and support for him on social media from politicians and celebrities.

January 31

– Trump tells reporters at the White House that he saw a story the night before about Smollett, saying, ‘It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.’

– Smollett’s family issues a statement calling the attack a racial and homophobic hate crime. Smollett’s family says he ‘has told the police everything’ and ‘his story has never changed,’ disputing assertions leveled on social media that he had been less than cooperative and changed his story.

February 1

– Smollett issues a statement telling people he’s OK and thanking them for their support. He says he’s working with authorities and has been ‘100 percent factual and consistent on every level.’

February 2

– Smollett gives a concert in West Hollywood, California, opening with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.

February 12

– Chicago police say Smollett turned over some, but not all, of the phone records detectives requested as part of their investigation. Police say the heavily redacted files aren’t sufficient. Smollett says he redacted information to protect the privacy of contacts and people not relevant to the attack.

February 13

– Chicago police pick up two men they identify as Nigerian brothers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on their return from Nigeria after police learn at least one worked on ‘Empire.’ Police question the brothers and search the apartment where the men live.

February 14

– Chicago police say local media reports that the attack against Smollett was a hoax are unconfirmed.

– Producers of ‘Empire’ dispute media reports that Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show.

February 15

– Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielimi says the two ‘persons of interest’ are now considered suspects. He says the men – identified previously by police as two brothers from Nigeria – are in custody but have not been charged with a crime.

– Chicago police release the two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for nearly 48 hours. A police spokesman says the two are no longer considered suspects and that investigators have new evidence to consider as a result of questioning them.

February 16

– Police say the investigation has ‘shifted’ after detectives question the two brothers about the attack and release them without charges. Police say they’ve requested a follow-up interview with Smollett. Smollett’s lawyers say the actor feels ‘victimized’ by reports that he played a role in the assault.

– Smollett’s account of what happened is met with some skepticism on social media in the wake of the new developments.

February 17

– Chicago police say they’re still seeking a follow-up interview with Smollett after receiving new information that ‘shifted’ their investigation of a reported attack on the ‘Empire’ actor. Guglielimi says police reached out to Smollett’s attorney, but says an interview has not been conducted.

– Guglielimi declines to address reports that a grand jury may hear evidence in the case, saying: ‘We’re not confirming, denying or commenting on anything until we can talk to him and we can corroborate some information that we’ve gotten.’

February 19

– Chicago police investigate tip that on the night Smollett reported being attacked, he was in an elevator of his apartment building with the two Nigerian brothers. Police later dismiss the tip, saying it’s not credible based on video evidence.

– Chicago’s top prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, recuses herself from the investigation. Her office says the decision was made ‘out of an abundance of caution… to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.’ No details were provided. Foxx later says the reason for the recusal is that she had conversations with a Smollett family member after the incident was reported in late January.

February 20

– Chicago police say Smollett is officially suspected of filing a false police report when he said he was a victim of a racist, homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January. Police also say that two brothers who were questioned about the attack were testifying before a grand jury and detectives were presenting evidence to the grand jury.

– Chicago police say the Cook County State’s Attorney has charged Smollett with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report that he was attacked by two masked men. Police detectives were contacting Smollett’s attorneys to arrange his surrender for arrest.

February 21

– Chicago police say Smollett turned himself in to face a felony charge of disorderly conduct, which could bring up to three years in prison.

– Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity. Investigators say they have a $3,500 check that Smollett used to pay the two brothers to help him.

February 22

– Producers of ‘Empire’ say Jussie Smollett’s character will be removed from the final two episodes of this season.

March 7

– A Cook County grand jury returns a 16-count indictment charging Smollett with falsely reporting an offense.

March 26

– Attorneys for ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett say charges alleging he lied to police about attack have been dropped.

 

 

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