Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx never “formally” recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case ― contrary to the Chicago prosecutor’s public announcement that she had done so ― a spokesperson for the prosecutor confirms.
In a statement Wednesday, Cook County State’s Attorney spox Kiera Ellis said Foxx “did not formally recuse herself or the [State’s Attorney] Office based on any actual conflict of interest. As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor.”
According to Ellis, Foxx’s announcement that she had recused herself “was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense.”
“Instead, in an abundance of caution, Fox informally separated herself from the decision-making over the case and left it to her Assistants, as happens in 99.9% of all cases handled by the Office,” the spokesperson added.
Prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday after the Empire actor accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. However, he maintained his innocence and insisted he was attacked.
Records show Cook County’s top prosecutor asked Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to let the FBI investigate the alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett before the actor was charged with lying to authorities.
Email and text messages given to the Chicago Sun-Times by Foxx show she made the effort after former first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff Tina Tchen contacted Foxx to set up a telephone conversation with a Smollett relative.
According to the USA Today, Foxx told the former Michelle Obama aide that she “convinced” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to request the FBI “take over” the investigation. In a text message to a Smollett family member, Foxx confirmed that she had made the request. “Spoke to the superintendent earlier, he made the ask,” wrote Foxx. “Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted.”
The ensuing conversations were cited by Foxx in recusing herself from Smollett’s prosecution.
Foxx told the Sun-Times the relative expressed concerns over leaked information that media outlets attributed to “police sources.”
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the FBI was involved from the start but there was never talk of turning the case over.
As Breitbart News reported Tuesday, progressive billionaire mega-donor George Soros donated $408,000 in 2016 to a super PAC which supported Foxx.
Smollett is accused of lying to the police about a racist and homophobic attack on himself in downtown Chicago on January 29th. The actor told police he was assaulted by two masked individuals, who hurled racist and homophobic insults at him. He said his attackers doused him with an unknown chemical substance, place a thin rope around his neck, and shouted “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing. Police charge Smollett paid $3,500 to the two men, both of whom are black.
The men were brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and one of them had worked on Empire. An attorney for them, Gloria Schmidt, has said the brothers agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship with him and the sense that he was helping their careers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.