Chicago’s top prosecutor injected herself into the criminal case of Empire actor Jussie Smollett after saying she had recused herself, texting her deputy that Smollett was a “washed up celeb” who had been overcharged.
The text message was included in thousands of documents released late Tuesday (April 16) by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. The information was made public in response to media outlets filing Freedom of Information requests for more information about the case. Smollett had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he’d been the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in January. Police insist the actor, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.
Foxx said in February that she was recusing herself from the investigation because of her “familiarity with potential witnesses.” But the texts show she weighed in on March 8, sending a text to her first assistant suggesting Smollett had been overcharged.
Foxx’s office dropped all charges with little explanation later that month, sparking immediate criticism from Chicago’s police chief and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called the decision “a whitewash of justice.” Smollett maintains his innocence.
Foxx’s office declined to release internal Smollett case files, noting the case had been sealed by a judge.