Chicago, IL – Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case after it became clear that police were considering the “Empire” star a suspect in a hoax crime.
First, Foxx explained that she had been facilitating conversations between the Smollett family and the Chicago Police Department and needed to remove herself from the case due to “potential questions of impartiality," WFLD reported.
But then the state’s attorney’s office released a statement that clarified her recusal.
“Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident,” Robert Foley, a senior adviser to Foxx, said in an emailed statement.
“Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor,” Foley said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Smollett, 36, turned himself in at the Chicago Police Department’s 1st District at 5 a.m. on Feb. 21 to face felony disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report.
The actor appeared in front of the bond court judge on Thursday afternoon, where his attorneys asked that Smollett be released on his own recognizance, the Associated Press reported.
Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. said that would be inappropriate and set a $100,000 bond for the actor.
“First, Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic, and political language. When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a press conference on Thursday morning. “And why? The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary. So he concocted a story about being attacked.”
The superintendent said that Smollett lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
However, a thorough investigation by Chicago PD, which included interviews with more than 100 witnesses and the review of surveillance footage from 55 police and private-sector cameras, revealed that the attack on Smollett was a carefully, albeit poorly, staged hoax.
Former Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, whom Foxx defeated in the last election, took to social media to criticize her successor’s decision to step away from the Smollett case.
"Maybe I should have just recused myself from the difficult cases that came across my desk when I was State's Attorney. I was under the impression that when the voters elected me and I took my oath of office it meant I had to do my job,” Alvarez posted on her Facebook page.
Superintendent Johnson told reporters at the press conference that Foxx’s decision to recuse herself from the Smollett case didn’t cause any delays or impact the case in any way.
“This isn’t TV, it’s real life. And that takes time,” he said.
Critics on social media were quick to accuse Foxx of attempting to avoid become ensnarled in what is sure to remain a racially-charged case.
“WTF?! Illinois State Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself fm doing her job People of Illinois pay her to do...in Jussie Smollett assault investigation! Why? B/C she is black & Smollett is black & Foxx will not prosecute Smollett who apparently faked event to create Racial Tensions!,” accused @Tigerschweitzer on Twitter.