Chicago, IL – A Cook County judge last month ordered Google to turn over copious amount of information from the accounts of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and his manager.
The order came four months into the investigation by a special prosecutor of what actually happened when Smollett claimed he was attacked by homophobic Trump supporters in Chicago a year ago, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The search warrants issued to Google sought a year’s worth of Smollett and his manager’s photos, location data, private messages, Google Voice texts, calls and contacts, search and web browsing history, and emails, including those which were drafted and then deleted.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
But despite that legal wrangling over dollars and cents, Smollett is not yet in the clear on the criminal charges he initially faced.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin said that Foxx had was right to recuse herself from Smollett’s trial after she asked Commissioner Johnson to turn over the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after talking to Tchen, but that she did not have the authority to appoint her second-in-command to the prosecution in her stead, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Texts obtained by public records requests showed that Foxx herself called the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office’s excuse for withdrawing from the case “bulls--t,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Toomin gave Special Prosecutor Dan Webb a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
And when the judge signed off on the search warrants for Google four months into the investigation, he ordered the tech giant not to disclose that the information was being sought because it could “jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
It was unclear whether Google had turned over the files to investigators yet.
A Google spokesman told the Chicago Tribune the company couldn’t comment on specific records requests from law enforcement.