FBI reportedly probing why Jussie Smollett charges were dropped
The FBI reportedly launched a probe Wednesday to get to the bottom of Chicago prosecutors’ secret deal to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett even though they insisted they had the evidence for a conviction.
The federal investigation kicked off one day after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office abandoned its 16-count felony indictment against the “Empire” star with no warning and little explanation, reported Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV, citing law-enforcement sources.
The report came as State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended the bombshell decision to walk away from the prosecution — even as she maintained her office had an airtight case.
“Based on the facts and the evidence . . . this office believes that they could prove him guilty,” Foxx told WLS. But she added of prosecutors’ decision to let Smollett walk free with no more than the forfeiture of his $10,000 bail and 16 hours of community service, “I believe this is a just outcome based on the circumstances.”
The latest twist in an already whirlwind saga came as Foxx’s office bizarrely insisted that she did not “formally” recuse herself from the case — she only did so “colloquially.”
The revelation regarding Foxx’s decision last month adds to the growing mystery behind prosecutors’ surprise decision to drop the case.
State’s attorney spokeswoman Keira Ellis said Foxx “informally separated herself from the decision-making over the case” and did so “in an abundance of caution.”
Foxx indicated she was stepping aside because, just days after the Jan. 29 alleged attack, she was put in touch with a member of Smollett’s family through Tina Tchen, a Chicago lawyer and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, and tried to get the FBI to take over the probe.
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The case was then passed over to First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats, who announced the dismissal of charges Tuesday but made it clear, “I do not believe he is innocent.”
Foxx is under fire by critics who say she should have recused her entire office from the case and gotten a special prosecutor to take over.
But Ellis said Foxx wasn’t required to do that by law.
“The State’s Attorney did not formally recuse herself or the Office based on any actual conflict of interest,” she said. “As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor.”
Ellis also clarified, “Although we used the term ‘recuse’ as it relates to State’s Attorney Foxx’s involvement in this matter, it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense.”
Asked whether Foxx is under investigation, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which investigates public corruption, declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Smollett could still face federal charges.
The FBI worked closely with Chicago police from the outset of the alleged hoax hate-crime investigation — leaving open the possibility that he could still face federal charges, such as obstruction of justice, conspiracy, mail fraud or mailing threatening communications.
The decision lies in the hands of John Lausch, who was nominated by President Trump as the US attorney of the Northern District of Illinois.
Mail fraud alone carries up to 20 years behind bars.
Via Page Six
My view: Everything about Josie Smollett's case is so strange, even the First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats, who announced the dismissal of charges Tuesday said, “I do not believe he is innocent.” So who gave the orders from the top, to drop the 16 counts charges against Smollett, wow wonders and miracles happens with Trump as the president, who can go wrong.? Just know that if you have no money and valuable connections, you're done. This is not a win win situation for Josie Smollett, because he has been publicly damaged by the Nigerian brothers. Even if he says he's innocent. Smollett has lost in the court of public opinion Someone is definitely not telling the truth. Oh was the Judge hired from Nigeria?, hahaha just joking, who knows? I think it's good that the FBI is investigating.