Another bombshell dropped on Thursday in the bizarre case of Jussie Smollett having the 16 felony charges against him tossed away.
The Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is claiming on Thursday that she did not actually recuse herself after letting former Michelle Obama aide Tina Tchen and a relative of Smollett intervene in the case.
“The state’s attorney did not formally recuse herself or the office based on any actual conflict of interest,” said Foxx spokeswoman Tandra Simonton, according to the Chicago Tribune. “As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor under [state law].”
When the term “recusal” was used earlier, “it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense,” Simonton claimed.
But that contradicts a statement her office made in February.
"Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident," the office said, according to Fox 32 Chicago.
"Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor,” they concluded.
Removing yourself from decision making means recusing yourself. Now it’s looking like Foxx may not have taken herself out of the process.
Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel, who has been closely following this case, says no one believes she’s not involved in the decision making here.
“The State’s attorney’s office is saying the decision to drop the charges against #JussieSmollett did not come from Kim Foxx as she recused herself,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “No one that’s close to the case that I’ve talked to outside of #Smollett’s legal team believes that.”
Perhaps that’s why Magats had such a hard time explaining why he decided to drop the charges against Smollett even though he admitted that he believes the actor is guilty. It may have been Foxx’ decision.
"We believe he did what he was charged with doing," Magats explained in a bewildering interview on Wednesday. "This was not an exoneration.
The bizarre behavior from the State’s Attorney’s Office has brought furious condemnation from the Chicago Police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who pointed out that a grand jury brought 16 felony charges against Smollett based on just a sliver of evidence. They believe the mountain of evidence they have proves he faked the hate crime attack.
“It is not on the level from beginning to end, and there needs to be a level of accountability throughout the system,” Emanuel also said.
The Chicago Police union complained earlier this month that Foxx hadn’t recused her entire office or appointed a special prosecutor because of her self-admitted conflict of interest. They renewed their call for an investigation into the prosecutor’s office on Tuesday.
On Thursday, President Trump announced that both the FBI and the Department of Justice were looking into the matter.
The police union is also planning to protest Foxx on Monday, according to Fox 32 Chicago reporter Dakarai Turner.