Unearthed Texts Show Kim Foxx Meddled in Jussie Smollett Case Despite 'Recusal'
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx personally meddled in the case of Empire star Jussie Smollett even after she claimed to have "recused" herself, recently unearthed text messages reveal. Her staff also slammed police as "the worst," and a special prosecutor who had worked with Foxx in prosecuting police sent letters supporting Smollett shortly before the charges against him were dropped. The local police union said these acts reveal a "double standard": police are required to be transparent while officials like Foxx can hide the truth.
"Chicago's elected officials never tire of demanding accountability and transparency from Chicago police officers," Martin Preib, second vice president at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), told PJ Media on Wednesday. "The fact that many of these officials, including Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, have stated they want to move on from this case without digging deeper is a clear sign of a double standard at work."
"These emails and texts are deeply troubling and the elected officials in Chicago should be calling for more investigation. The citizens of Chicago, suffering from chronic violent crime, deserve accountability from the prosecutors," Preib added.
Text messages and emails released in response to a FOIA request from The New York Post and other media outlets revealed that Foxx meddled in the case after her office announced she had recused herself on February 19.
On March 8, Foxx sent this message to First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joe Magats, her employee: "Sooo …… I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases … 16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A."
That day, a grand jury had indicted the Empire star on 16 felony counts for his false statements to police regarding a hate hoax he appears to have orchestrated. Smollett continues to claim that he was attacked by men in "Make America Great Again" hats who yelled "this is MAGA country" before pouring bleach on him and hanging a noose around his neck.
Responding to Foxx's text, Magats did not rebuke her for violating her recusal, but said, "Yes. I can see where that can be seen was [sic] excessive."
Foxx went on to compare Smollett's 16 felony counts to singer R. Kelly's 10 felony sex abuse charges.
"Pedophile with 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," she texted. "Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should."
This confuses the severity of the charge with the number of times a law was violated. If Smollett lied to police 16 times, then 16 counts make sense, even if lying to the police is a less severe crime than child sexual abuse.
Once again, Magats confirmed Foxx's views, however. "Agreed," he responded. "I’ll get with Risa and Jim. With him taking over we can take a hard look at how we charge the cases and get it to something that covers what needs to be covered without being excessive and ultimately pointless." The New York Post's Page Six identified "Risa" as Assistant State's Attorney Risa Lanier.
Foxx responded, "Yeah...it's not who we want to be." Magats confirmed, "For sure."
This exchange appears to have been the most damning, but Foxx texted Magats a great deal between her supposed recusal and the dropping of charges against Smollett on March 26.
On March 1, Foxx asked Magats, "How was this morning's meeting? I'm free for a call." On March 3, she told her employee that "Michael Avenatti reached out. Apparently he's coming in to represent the Nigerian brothers in Smollett. I gave him your office number." Magats replied, "Thanks."
In a statement Tuesday night, Foxx claimed she was speaking generally, not about the Smollett case.
"After the indictment became public, I reached out to Joe to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority," her statement read.
Preib, the FOP leader, condemned Foxx for lying to the public.
"The texts released yesterday indicate that Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx was perhaps not being truthful when she said she had recused herself from the case. Clearly, she was still directing her underling about the appropriate response from her administration," Preib told PJ Media.
If police were caught lying in this manner, they would face severe consequences. "Similar evidence of making untrue statements like this against a police officer could very well be dire for him or her," the FOP leader added. "The fact she later backtracked and said she didn't actually recuse only adds another potential layer of untruthfulness."
Yet these communications between Foxx and Magats were not the only documents revealed in the FOIA disclosure.
In other text messages, Foxx's senior advisor Robert Foley called Chicago police detectives "the worst," and falsely accused them of leaking the story of the 16-count indictment, CWB Chicago reported.
Shortly before the charges were dropped, Patricia Holmes, one of Smollett's attorneys and a former special prosecutor against Chicago police officers, sent "letters of support" and "evidence of community involvement" to the prosecutor's office.
These letters came minutes before 5 p.m. on March 25, the day before the charges were dropped. Less than 18 hours later, the case would be resolved and sealed from the public, CWB Chicago reported.
"Another highly suspicious collection of communications and actions is the fact that the special prosecutor, Patricia Holmes, apparently sent several letters of support and evidence of community involvement on behalf of Mr. Smollett," Preib told PJ Media. "The very next day the case is resolved and sealed from the public? That timing is extremely suspicious."
Preib also noted that Holmes "oversaw the trial of three officers connected to the Laquan McDonald shooting as a special prosecutor" back in 2017. This past January, the three officers, who were accused of orchestrating a cover-up of the McDonald shooting, were acquitted.
"Ms. Holmes accused the officers of conspiring to cover up the shooting. Despite the wholesale support of Chicago's progressive media pushing her narrative, the case imploded in the courtroom and the officers were acquitted of all charges, though their reputations and careers were left in tatters," the FOP leader recalled.
"Lastly, the communication from an aide calling the Chicago detectives 'the worst' is not only untrue, it is a clear example of the antipathy [Foxx's] administration has shown to police officers in many contexts," Preib concluded.
The police union has called for a DOJ investigation into Foxx's office, and Trump has indeed ordered an investigation into the Smollett case. The City of Chicago is also suing Smollett for refusing to repay taxpayers for the $130,000 in overtime payments made to police who investigated the alleged hoax.
The Cook County state's attorney has a great deal to answer for.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.