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WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — The Cook County State’s Attorney Office released documents Tuesday related to the agency’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case. Kim Foxx’s office in March dropped all charges against the actor, who was accused of lying about being the victim of a hate crime. The nearly 4,000 pages of documents were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from news organizations. There was no smoking gun, but the documents revealed Foxx was kept in the loop on a case in which she publicly claimed to have recused herself. The document release includes texts she shared with her staff about the case. — SCROLL TO READ THE TEXT MESSAGES — Foxx has been on the ropes since her office dropped all charges against Smollett. Early in the investigation, Foxx talked to one of Smollett’s relatives about how police were handling the investigation. On Feb. 19, the state’s attorney said she recused herself “out of an abundance of caution.” But three days later, in a group text with her top staffers titled “Foxxhole,” Foxx commented on a news article saying, “Funny the theory that everyone is related to this guy is pervasive.” On March 3, officials in her office also told Foxx that celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti had reached out claiming to represent the two brothers accused of conspiring with Smollett to arrange the attack. On March 8, Foxx seemed to suggest the charges against Smollett were too severe. She wrote: “So… I’m recused, but when people accuse of overcharging cases… 16 counts on a class 4 becomes Exhibit A.” After the charges were dropped, Foxx went on the offensive. She said her office routinely agrees to diversion deals. But police chiefs and prosecutors’ organizations pointed out Foxx’s office did not require Smollett to admit guilt before giving him a deal — which is standard in diversion cases. The text messages and emails released include heavy redactions. What’s clear is Foxx’s distaste for spending time and energy on the Smollett case. On March 8, just two weeks before her office dropped charges against the actor, Foxx texted a colleague:
“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.”
Foxx has said she’s open to an outside review of how her office handled the case. She called on the Cook County Inspector General to take a look. In response to the document release, Foxx said:
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. I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principles.
President Trump has said federal investigators are looking into the case. [protected-iframe id=”d3c2bd46bbd1e3da788ac56ec71de5d7-41641997-135740107″ info=”” width=”100%” height=”600″ frameborder=”0″ class=”scribd_iframe_embed” scrolling=”no”]