Well folks, this does not look good.
I don’t know exactly what went down, but it smells to high heaven!
Questions are now arising about whether Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, exerted undue influence over Prosecutor Kim Foxx leading to the dismissal of all 16 counts in the Smollett case.
Details are still emerging, but take a look at these reports:
The story has been confirmed by the Chicago Sun Times:
Just days after Jussie Smollett told Chicago police he had fought off a pair of attackers who targeted him in an apparent hate crime, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx tried to persuade Police Supt. Eddie Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI.
Foxx’s call to Johnson came after an influential supporter of the “Empire” actor reached out to Foxx personally: Tina Tchen, a Chicago attorney and former chief of staff for former First Lady Michelle Obama, according to emails and text messages provided by Foxx to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a public records request.
Tchen passed Foxx’s number to a relative of the actor, and the ensuing conversations with the family member were cited by Foxx last month as the reason she recused herself from Smollett’s prosecution as the actor faces disorderly conduct charges for allegedly making a false police report.
Text messages show Tchen contacted Foxx on Feb. 1, three days after Smollett said he was jumped by two men as he walked home from a sandwich shop near his Streeterville home. Tchen texted Foxx to set up an early morning phone call.
“I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,” Tchen wrote in a text sent before 5 a.m., seeking to set up a call with Foxx before Tchen left on an 8 a.m. flight to New York.
A few hours later, Foxx received a text from a relative of Smollett, who said she’d received the number from Tchen.
In an interview with the Sun-Times this week, Foxx said that the family member expressed concerns about leaked information about the investigation — information that media outlets attributed to “police sources.”
“They had no doubt about the quality of the investigation, but believed that the FBI would have a tighter lid on the information,” said Foxx, adding that Johnson initially seemed receptive to the idea of turning the case over to the FBI.
Foxx said she has made similar calls to Johnson in cases involving lower-profile victims.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the FBI was involved from the start of the investigation, as is the case in most possible hate crime investigations, but there was never a discussion of the CPD giving up the case to federal investigators. The department confirmed last week that there is an ongoing internal investigation of the unnamed sources who gave the press information.
The conversations with Smollett’s relative took place during the period of the investigation when Smollett was considered the victim of a hate crime, not a suspect in a hoax, Foxx said.
Her decision to recuse herself was based on the conversations with the family member, which included information about Smollett.
An email included with the records requested by the Sun-Times shows Foxx’s chief ethics officer sent a message to top staff announcing Foxx had recused herself from the case on Feb. 13 — about a week before Smollett was charged, and the same date as her last text message and calls with Smollett’s relative.
Foxx spokesman Robert Foley announced that the top prosecutor had recused herself and turned the case over to her top deputy, Joseph Magats, on Feb. 19, without explaining why.
The next day, Foley elaborated in a statement to reporters that 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.”
The text messages show Foxx told both Tchen and Smollett’s relative that Foxx had reached out to Johnson personally about handing the investigation off to the FBI.
“Spoke to the superintendent earlier. He is going to make the ask. Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted,” Foxx wrote the relative that evening.
“OMG this would be a huge victory,” the relative texted in reply.
In an email message to Tchen sent the same day, Foxx wrote: “Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get to me shortly.”
Tchen did not respond to requests for comment from the Sun-Times.
And from Heavy.com:
Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney, tried to convince Chicago police to turn the Jussie Smollett case over to the FBI, Chicago newspapers reported.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the effort by Foxx came after a former Michelle Obama chief of staff reached out to Foxx. The newspaper reported that the chief of staff and lawyer was a supporter of Smollett. She was described as Tina Tchen, “a Chicago attorney and former chief of staff for former First Lady Michelle Obama,” by the Sun-Times.
You can read the texts here.
On March 26, 2019, the Empire actor’s attorneys dramatically revealed that prosecutors had dropped charges against Smollett, who stood accused of multiple felonies for allegedly faking a hate crime attack. “He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment,” his lawyers said in a statement. It was a dramatic and stunning about-face in the case, and it’s renewed scrutiny over what happened between Kim Foxx and Tina Tchen.
Foxx had recused herself from the case, and her top deputy, Joe Magats, made the decision, according to a journalist for the New York Times, who quoted Magats as saying, “We stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case. The mere fact that it was disposed of in an alternative manner does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities in the case or the evidence.” New York Times reporter Julie Bosman quoted Joseph Magats as saying, “We didn’t exonerate him.”
“Recusing herself, but not her administration, is a distinction without a difference,” Fraternal Order of Police Second Vice President Martin Preib told The New York Post. “What underling is going to go against their boss’s wishes?”