Since we already had the text messages via an FOIA request, this part of the Jussie Smollett mystery probably shouldn’t be considered a bombshell. Tina Tchen, who used to be Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, admitted yesterday that she had intervened in the investigation by putting the state’s prosecutor in touch with some unnamed member of Smollett’s family. What remains unclear is whether or not Tchen did this of her own volition or whether someone in the Obama family prompted her to do it. (USA Today)
“I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together,” Tchen said in a statement. “Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together. My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”
Foxx said she recused herself from the investigation because of her contacts with Tchen and the Smollett family member. The prosecutor wrote to Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson after the contacts to convey that the family wanted the FBI to take over the investigation, according to copies of emails and text released by the State’s Attorney’s Office.
So now we know how the whitewash ball got rolling in the first place. Foxx’s decision to recuse herself shouldn’t hold much water for anyone because the person who took over for her was undoubtedly clear on how their boss felt about the situation.
So is this the end of the tale? The records are sealed, Smollett strolls away with a smirk on his face and life in Chicago continues as it always has. Or maybe not. Another interesting detail emerged yesterday when we learned that the FBI may not be done with this garbage story. (ABC News)
Fuming from the stunning decision by prosecutors to drop charges in the “hoax” attack case against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the move Wednesday, saying all the evidence police collected against the TV star should be unsealed as the FBI opened a review of the disposition of the case.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the criminal charges against Smollett, two law enforcement sources briefed on the matter told ABC News on Wednesday. The sources insisted it is not an investigation, but a “review.”
And where did this come from? Sounds like all the way to the top.
I suppose there’s a distinction between an investigation and a “review,” but it’s rather subtle. By this point, having the FBI go out and investigate the supposed hate crime attack itself and Smollett’s subsequent statements to authorities is probably pointless. It sounds like the Chicago PD did all of the heavy lifting there already. What the FBI is “reviewing” is not so much what Smollett did and said, but how the Chicago prosecutors disposed of the case. (And “disposed” is the perfect word here, reminiscent of disposing of a body.)
Assuming the FBI finds something they really don’t like, do they open a case against Smollett over the hoax or against Foxx and company for the whitewash? More to the point, in order to make the decision, will they be able to access all of the sealed records from the case?
We may not learn the answers to those questions for weeks or even months. But in the meantime, I wanted to point you to one more item related to this story in case you missed it earlier this week. John Kass is a columnist from Chicago who I’ve been following for years. He’s been covering the peculiar, seedy nature of the Windy City’s government for his entire career and he penned a blistering column on Foxx’s handling of this mess. He describes how Foxx “bathed him in the waters of the Chicago Way, cleansed him, and made a new man out of him.”
Instead of a baptism by fire, Jussie Smollett received his baptism in the Chicago swamp. And absent any action by the feds, he will indeed return to his old life as a completely remade man.