A Chicago judge has appointed a special prosecutor to look into state’s attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the Jussie Smollett fake hate crime case. Judge Toomin said that Foxx was within her authority when she dropped 16 charges against Smollett related to a staged assault by two friends in January, but her actions leading up to that decision were suspect.
The special prosecutor may end up bringing charges against Smollett in connection with the staged hate crime, Toomin said.
Former state appellate judge Sheila O’Brien petitioned for the appointment of a special prosecutor in April on the grounds that Foxx’s decision not to charge Smollett, despite what police claimed was overwhelming evidence of his guilt, created “a perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment.”
Cook County officials have argued that the special prosecutor’s appointment is redundant since the county inspector general’s office is already looking into Foxx’s handling of the case and her decision to drop all pending charges in March, less than three weeks after Smollett was initially charged.
And if you believe that the Cook County inspector general will pursue a thorough, unbiased investigation, I’ve got a bridge over the Chicago River I’d love to sell you.
In her petition requesting a special prosecutor, O’Brien focused on Foxx’s claim to have recused herself.
Days after the alleged incident, Foxx announced that she had recused herself from the investigation due to public misperceptions that she had personal relationships with members of the Smollett family. Then, after text messages revealed that she continued weighing in on the case in conversations with her deputy after her recusal, Foxx admitted that she had not actually recused herself “in the legal sense” and instead had only used the term in colloquially.
Text messages released by Cook County in April also revealed that Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, asked Foxx to persuade Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn the case over to the FBI. Foxx complied with Tchen’s request, but Johnson ultimately refused to turn over the case.
It wasn’t just that Foxx was in contact with Smollett family members. Tchen is a Democratic Party heavy hitter and one of the top Democratic fundraisers in the nation. Also, the sister of Smollett is a Democratic activist and fundraiser. It seems obvious to all but the most naive that Foxx was doing a political favor for top Democrats who she was hoping would help her in any future bid for high office.
In other words, just another instance of “The Chicago Way” at work.
We’ll have to wait and see who the judge will name as special prosecutor. It will say a lot about just how independent and impartial this investigation will be.