Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police is officially requesting a federal investigation into whether the Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, tried to interfere into the department’s investigation of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on behalf of a former Obama administration official.
CWB Chicago, which has covered the Smollett case from the beginning, reports that Chicago’s police union requested the investigation in a letter to John R. Lausch, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago on Monday.
Smollett is accused of staging a “hate crime” outside his Chicago apartment in the early morning hours of January 29, 2019. Smollett claimed to have been assaulted by two white men who beat him, tied a noose around his neck, and splashed him with bleach, before yelling “This is MAGA country” and running off. After an intense investigation involving at least a dozen Chicago Police Department officers, CPD announced that they believed Smollett orchestrated the attack with the help of two friends, brothers he’d met on the set of his hit television show.
Smollett was charged with “disorderly conduct,” but only after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself for reasons that went unspecified until last week.
“[Cook County State’s Attorney Kim] Foxx recused herself late in the investigation, but only after she intervened in the case by asking Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI at the request of a Smollett relative and a former Obama administration official, according to newly-released emails and text messages,” CWB Chicago reported.
Foxx communicated with attorney Tina Tchen, who once served as the chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and as an aide to the president himself, in a series of emails and text messages obtained by the Chicago’s NBC affiliate.
In the emails, Tchen told Foxx that Smollett’s family “have concerns about the investigation” into whether a pair of Trump supporters attacked the “Empire” star outside of his downtown Chicago apartment building in late January. Foxx replied that she “spoke to the superintendent” and was “trying to figure out logistics,” and later that she believed she had convinced Johnson “to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation.”
The Smollett relative, who has not been named but appears in the text messages, replied, “OMG this would be a huge victory.”
Johnson did not turn the case over. Foxx eventually recused herself, and a deputy state’s attorney issued an official charge of “disorderly conduct” against Smollett days later for allegedly filing a false police report. Last week, a grand jury added an additional 16 felony counts to the state’s attorney’s charge.
The FBI — and the United States Postal Inspector — is still believed to be investigating Smollett in relation to a “terroristic threat” sent through the mail from Chicago’s south suburbs to FOX studios where “Empire” is filmed. The letter contained an inert white powder later revealed to be crushed Tylenol, but the FBI takes all death threats mailed through the USPS seriously.
The Fraternal Order of Police president wrote in his letter to the U.S. Attorney that “private attorneys [like Tchen] are not allowed to interfere with ongoing police investigations, particularly at the request of private individuals associated with subjects being investigated by the police.”
He added that he believes Foxx’s last-minute recusal from the case was insufficient to avoid a conflict of interest and to correct Foxx’s inappropriate involvement.
“In order for Ms. Foxx to properly charge and try this case, her entire office should have recused itself and a special prosecutor been appointed,” the letter read.