It appears that former Empire actor and hate-crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett is not the only one who might be held accountable for his actions. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who was involved in the case early on, might be in some hot water as well. But will she and others who participated in the case face any consequences?
Kim Foxx Caught in Lie?
As Smollett’s case was progressing in 2019, Foxx frequently told the public that she ceased communications with Jurnee Smollett, the actor’s sister, after she was informed that he had become a suspect. However, according to special prosecutor Daniel Webb’s report, the attorney was being deceptive. Fox News reported:
“The report, released [Dec. 20] by special prosecutor Daniel Webb, cites multiple examples from March 2019 and at the end of May 2019 in which Foxx told the media that she stopped communicating with Smollett’s sister. However, the report says she sent five text messages to her and talked with her on the phone another three times through Feb. 13, 2019, five days after she claimed she cut off communication.”
Fox News also noted that during the Feb. 13 phone call, Foxx and Smollett talked about the skin color of his alleged attackers, with the sister asking, “They’re white, right?” The attorney told her they were not white. “During the late evening of Feb. 13, [Jurnee] Smollett said her conversation with Foxx was ‘quite different’ and that Foxx said she couldn’t communicate with her anymore and that she was recusing herself from the case.”
Webb indicated he would be referring Foxx and her subordinate attorneys to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) alleging ethics violations. However, it appears criminal charges are not in the offing. The report indicated the probe “did not develop evidence that would support any criminal charges against State’s Attorney Foxx or any individual working at the CCSAO.”
Nevertheless, the special prosecutor also explained that “the OSP did develop evidence that establishes substantial abuse of discretion and operational failures by the CCASO in prosecuting and resolving the Initial Smollett Case.”
Webb’s report explained that Foxx’ actions constituted a violation of “obligations of honesty and transparency by making false and/or misleading statements to the public regarding the nature and reasons for the dismissal.” Of course, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office denies any wrongdoing on the part of Foxx, adding:
“We respectfully disagree with the OSP’s findings of abuse of prosecutorial discretion. A prosecutor’s discretion is as broad as any in the law, and differences of opinion as to how a case was handled do not signify an abuse of discretion. Finally, it is important to emphasize that the OSP did not find any criminal activity or undue influence on the part of the State’s Attorney or the CCSAO.”
Smollett’s sister told officers that Foxx said that her brother “should be fine as long as he stays consistent,” according to the report. Foxx has denied making this statement.
Retired Judge Sheila O’Brien, who filed the motion to have a special prosecutor assigned to Smollett’s case, called Foxx a “liar” and insisted that she should resign. “Cook County Government needs to clean house,” she declared.
Foxx isn’t the only one under scrutiny. At the time, then-First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told CBS Chicago that he did not believe Smollett was innocent. Nevertheless, he decided to drop the 16 felony counts related to the actor’s hoax. “Based on all the facts and circumstances. Based on his lack of criminal background. I mean, we defer or do alternative prosecutions — in the last two years, we’ve done it on 5,700 other felony cases,” he said.
Will Foxx Get Away With It?
Even though the special prosecutor has referred Foxx to the commission, it is not clear that she will face any real consequences for her alleged actions. Indeed, when the charges against Smollett were dropped in 2019, it seemed clear some funny business was afoot. With the amount of evidence law enforcement had gathered against the actor, many believed it would be appropriate to charge him.
This led to speculation that Foxx and others in her office were trying to shield him from punishment. However, whether there is a reckoning or not, Webb’s report might just show how irresponsibly and even corruptly the officials involved in this case behaved.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.