Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx responded to news that an special prosecutor issued new charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who allegeldy faked a hate crime back in January of 2019, by blaming “politics” and the “era of Donald Trump” for her office’s woes.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb issued the indictment against Smollett late Tuesday, charging the actor with six “low-level felonies” according to the Chicago Sun-Times, after investigators, rehashing the evidence against Smollett, determined that he likely faked being the victim of a racist, homophobic attack early in the morning of January 19, outside of his apartment in Chicago’s tony Streeterville neighborhood.
Webb’s harshest words, though, weren’t for Smollett, but for Foxx’s office, which he feels gave Smollett special treatment despite the wealth of evidence linking Smollett to a series of crimes. The Cook County State’s Attorney allowed Smollett to walk free without standing trial, inking an unofficial “plea deal” with the actor that absolved him of the charges in return for sixteen hours of community service and $10,000, which Smollett had already submitted to the city as part of his bond.
The States Attorney’s office claimed the “deal” did not exonerate Smollett, but the actor treated it as evidence of his innocence.
But instead of taking responsibility for the mishap, Foxx lashed out at the prosecutor, accusing him of “James Comey-like” tactics, and suggesting that the new indictiment was the responsibility of her political rivals.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same,” Foxx’s spokewsoman claimed in a statement.
“What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” Foxx said, referencing Comey’s eleventh hour decision to resuscitate an investigation into Hillary Clinton and her mishandling of classified information.
Foxx has made her opposition to Trump a hallmark of her re-election campaign, airing commercials touting her success in “standing up” to the administration on the issue of immigration. But, Webb pointed out in his report, her troubles go far beyond a difficult campaign to keep her office.
“In his letter, Webb said his investigators said the state’s attorney’s office was unable to show ‘documentary evidence’ that Smollett’s case was handled like similar low-level felony cases involving non-celebrity defendants, despite public statements from the office that the case was typical,” according to the Sun-Times. “Webb found that the case against Smollett was strong, and that the state’s attorney’s office provided no documentation that the evidence against Smollett had somehow eroded between his arrest and when the charges were dropped.”
And it’s possible Webb isn’t done with Foxx. According to the special prosecutor’s report, his team hasn’t finished investigating what, exactly, happened with Smollett’s case, and they have reached “no conclusions” on whether there was further wrongdoing on the part of Foxx’s office.
Last year, in a series of FOIA results obtained by various Chicago news outlets, Foxx herself was shown dicussing the Smollett’s case over text with a former aide to President Barack Obama, who was communicating with and on behalf of members of Smollett’s family, and that communication could come into play when the special prosecutor’s full report is released.
Smollett, meanwhile, will have to appear in court in Chicago on February 24th. He’s also due to make an appearance, soon, in a separate case related to his alleged hoax hate crime: the city of Chicago is suing Smollett to recover around $130,000 the Chicago Police Department paid out in overtime investigating Smollett’s case.