News & Politics

Special Investigator in Smollett Case Says Prosecutor's Office Lied and 'Abused Its Discretion'

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

The special investigator for the Jussie Smollett case, Dan Webb, has found that the office of State’s Attorney Kim Foxx did not commit any criminal offenses in its handling of the case but that Foxx made several “misleading” statements and “abused the discretion” of her office.

Webb paints a picture of an office in disarray and incompetently managed. The fact that Foxx and her people avoided prosecution may have had more to do with Webb’s lack of confidence that any convictions would come from indictments, than the innocence of the principals involved.

Significantly, Webb did not accuse Foxx’s office of being influenced by Democratic Party power brokers like Tina Tchen, the onetime chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama, and Smollett’s sister Jurnee, a prominent Democratic Party activist. However, Webb says that Foxx lied to the press about not continuing to communicate with Jurnee Smollett even after finding out about the case. Also, the two lead prosecutors in the case, acting State’s Attorney Joseph Magats and lead prosecutor Risa Lanier, had “significantly and meaningfully divergent explanations” for why the case against Smollett was dropped.

Chicago Sun-Times:

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb laid out a series of “operational failures” — and several false statements by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — as he announced on Monday the end of his investigation into the handling of hate crime claims by actor Jussie Smollett.

Webb said Foxx and her staff made false or misleading statements about her declared recusal from the case, about how the Smollett case compared to others in the court system, about the certainty of a conviction for Smollett, and about her contacts with Smollett’s sister, actor Jurnee Smollett.

But Webb also said he did not find evidence that the case was improperly influenced by third parties such as Tina Tchen, the onetime chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama, nor did he find evidence that would support criminal charges.

This being Chicago and Kim Foxx being a rising Democratic star, no one expected any charges against the state’s attorney would be recommended. But as a question of old-fashioned machine influence-peddling and political meddling in a criminal case, it shows that things haven’t changed much despite numerous “reforms” attempted over the years.

Predictably, Smollett’s handlers cried “racism.”

Smollett attorney Mark Geragos said in a statement Monday, “This so called “report” on Kim Foxx and the timing of the recharging of Jussie reveals the real political electoral motivation of Dan Webb and his cohorts. It’s a blatant attempt to take down a black, progressive, female prosecutor who does not fit within the white power structure. Jussie, a black, gay man who maintains his innocence, continues to be used as a pawn.

“Today’s report confirms what the defense has said all along—there was no wrongdoing or undue influence by Jussie or the defense in the dismissal of all charges against him and the second wave of charges is a blatant constitutional violation.”

Like I said, things haven’t changed much.

The report is actually quite damning of Foxx’s haphazard management of her office. Fox News:

“The only punishment for Mr. Smollett was to perform 15 hours of community service that had no relationship to the charged conduct,” the report further states. The office also “only” required “Mr. Smollett to forfeit his $10,000 bond as restitution to the City of Chicago (a figure amounting to less than 10% of the $130,106.15 in police overtime pay that the City alleges it paid solely due to Mr. Smollett’s false statements to police.”

Other findings by Webb include the previously unknown fact that the statement of dismissal of charges against Smollett issued by Foxx’s office was written by both the prosecutor and defense attorney. Webb called that “atypical.” And Foxx’s office made blatantly false statements about the $10,000 fine paid by Smollett “by claiming it was the most Smollett could have been ordered to pay in restitution under the law when there is no such cap under the provision of the disorderly conduct statute under which Mr. Smollett was charged.

Webb carefully laid out a criminal case against Foxx and some in her office and then refused to recommend indictments. That’s the Chicago Way of “investigating” official wrongdoing and surprises no one. Webb wasn’t supposed to find any criminal activity. He was supposed to justify not indicting anyone.

As for the political implications, Foxx is presumed to be ahead in her re-election race, and with no indictments, she should coast to victory in November.