Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx referred to actor Jussie Smollett as a “washed up celeb who lied to cops” in texts messages to members of her staff sent roughly two weeks prior to her office dropping all charges against the Empire star.
“Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases …16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A,” Foxx wrote a staffer on March 8th, the same day Jussie Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury for filing a false police report on January 29th. The Chicago Police Department charge that Smollett staged a hate crime against himself in downtown Chicago in an attempt to boost his career.
Texts show Foxx referenced another case in what appears to have been as an effort to compare Smollett’s situation to another case involving a child molester.
“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it’s indicative of something we should be looking at generally. Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.”
Texts messages from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to staff about two weeks before charges were dropped on Jussie Smollett.
Refers to Smollett as a “washed up celeb who lied to cops.”
Texts obtained through FOIA request. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/KWPKQzLQ8h
– Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) April 16, 2019
The eyebrow-raising messages were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by CBS Chicago.
The texts also show Foxx’s office struggled to manage a tsunami of media requests after the charges were dropped against Smollett.
“Just wish I could have anticipated the magnitude of this response and planned a bit better,” Risa Lanier, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, wrote in one message.
In a statement Tuesday, Foxx said she contacted First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats following Smollett’s indicted to “discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority.”
“I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principles,” she added.
Meanwhile, Inspector General Patrick Blanchard will open his own probe into the Cook County State’s Attorney’s handling of the case.
Jussie Smollett , who is black and gay, maintains he told the truth in alleging that two masked men attacked him, yelling racist and anti-gay insults slurs. The actor also claimed that the assailants wrapped a rope around his neck and screamed, “This is MAGA country,” before fleeing.
Last month, Cook County prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts against the actor, stating that while the charges were provable, the case was not worth the resources that would be needed. The decision prompted a furious response from Chicago Police Department chief Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who described the decision as a “whitewash of justice”
Earlier April, Chicago officials filed a civil lawsuit against Smollett for refusing to repay around $130,000 that police spent on investigating the alleged hate hoax.
Despite claiming to have recused herself from the case, a Cook County spokesperson admitted last month that Foxx only did so in a “colloquial,” but not in a “legal sense.”
Foxx faced blistering criticism from an anonymous assistant state’s attorney in her office over the Smollett case, who described the situation as “an international laughing stock” in a letter obtained by CWB Chicago. The unnamed staff member also ripped Foxx for suggesting racism was driving criticism for dropping the charges against the actor. Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo has said Foxx could serve up to 20 years in prison if convicted of corruption for her handling of the Smollett case.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has called on Foxx to resign from her post.