New documents showing text messages and email chains revealed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s asked Supt. Eddie Johnson to turn the Jussie Smollett investigation over to the FBI before she recused herself from the case.
The documents, obtained Wednesday by NBC 5 via a Freedom of Information Act request, show correspondence between Foxx, an unknown person and Tina Tchen, a one-time assistant to former President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama.
In an email, Tchen said she knows the Smollett family and said they “have concerns about the investigation” into his alleged hate crime attack, which police now say was hoax staged to boost his career.
In the messages, Foxx tells an unknown person who contacted her through Tchen, that she “spoke to the superintendent” and was “trying to figure out logistics.”
In a later email, Foxx tells Tchen she “convinced” Johnson “to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation.”
“He is reaching out now and will get back to me shortly,” she wrote on Feb. 1, weeks before Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false report.
Foxx ultimately recused herself from the case and delegated it to her first assistant Joseph Magats.
In the weeks since, Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts in connection with the attack. He is expected to appear in court Thursday.
Smollett reported the alleged attack to police in late January, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs in Chicago‘s Streeterville neighborhood. Police alleged Smollett staged the attack, hiring two brothers who worked on “Empire” to execute it, because he was unhappy with his salary.
The lawyer for the brothers, Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, said Monday that the pair has evidence backing their claim that he orchestrated the assault. Smollett’s lawyers said “misinformation” has been reported in the case and noted they plan to prove a lack of evidence in the case.
Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct in filing a false report on Friday, court documents show. All 16 counts are Class 4 felonies, the most serious of which carry a maximum sentence of one-to-three years in prison. Probation is also possible.
The indictment issued by the grand jury lays out two separate sets of charges against the actor. The first set alleges that Smollett lied to responding officers immediately following the reported attack.
Specifically, the charges allege that Smollett made false statements about the nature of the attack, telling officers that the attackers hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him, according to the indictment.
The second set of charges alleges that Smollett made false statements to detectives in a follow-up interview about the case.
“Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor and respected him as a role model,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “We stand behind the work of our detectives.”
Smollett’s attorneys said they will “push back against” the charges filed against their client.
“What is unexpected however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie,” Geragos said. “This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records.”
“Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption,” he said.