Jussie Smollett might finally face some real justice for dragging the country through a hate crime hoax. Today, Smollett was indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct related to the false police reports he made last year.
A special Cook County grand jury handed down the new indictment on Tuesday, following a six-month investigation by special prosecutor Dan Webb.
In a statement, Webb’s office said Smollett filed four separate false police reports claiming he was the victim of a hate crime.
“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said in a statement.
The State’s Attorney’s office initially filed 16 felony charges against Smollett but last March all of those charges were dropped and Smollett was set free so long as he agreed to a few hours of community service and surrendered his $10,000 bail. The decision to dismiss the charges was immediately judged suspicious by many observers.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx denied she had done anything out of the ordinary saying that, apart from the celebrity aspect of the case, Smollett was treated like anyone else. An internal letter was revealed seeking similar cases that Foxx could offer to the media to back up her claim.
But the National District Attorney’s Association and the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association both published statements critical of Foxx’s handling of the case. The Illinois group’s letter said in part, “This action was highly unusual, not a statutory diversion program, and not in accordance with well accepted practices of State’s Attorney initiated diversionary programs.” Foxx’s response was to suggest that her critics were targeting her because she is black. Finally, last June, a special prosecutor was appointed to look into the case, including Foxx’s handling of it.
So was the dismissal of charges against Jussie Smollett business as usual as Kim Foxx claimed? Not according to the special prosecutor. In a letter explaining the new charges against Smollett the special prosecutor pointed out that the State’s Attorney’s office never could back up it’s claim that Smollett was treated just like other defendants. Not could it explain what new evidence led to the sudden dismissal of charges [emphasis added]:
Another major factor in the OSP’s [Office of the Special Prosecutor’s] determination that further prosecution of Mr. Smollett is in the interests of justice is that the CCSAO [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] has been unable to provide the OSP with documentary evidence that shows that, in dismissing the Smollett case on the terms presented in court on March 26, 2019, the CCSAO relied on other dispositions of similar cases prior to the Smollett case that would justify this disposition. This issue was important to the OSP because on the day the Smollett case was resolved in court, March 26, 2019, the CCSAO issued a written press release in which it told the public that the Smollett case was being resolved under the same criteria that would be available for any defendant with similar circumstances. As a result, the OSP sought to obtain all documentary evidence within the CCSAO that would identify prior similar case files that were relied on by the CCSAO that would support this public statement. The CCSAO was unable to provide this documentary evidence…
The CCSAO decision-makers overseeing the Smollett resolution decision have not identified any new evidence they learned of between the time of indictment and dismissal of the indictment that changed their view that the evidence against Mr. Smollett was strong.
Does this mean that Kim Foxx or someone in her office is about to be indicted as well? The Special Prosecutor says that part of the case is still ongoing:
Regarding the investigation related to Judge Toomin’s second directive to the OSP, to determine whether any person or office involved in the Smollett case engaged in wrongdoing,including the CCSAO or individuals in that office, the OSP has reached no conclusions. This aspect of the OSP’s investigation continues, and the OSP’s findings will ultimately be set forth ina final written report to the Court and for the benefit of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, pursuant to Judge Toomin’s August 23, 2019, Order.
That’s obviously very bad news for Kim Foxx who is in the midst of running for reelection. In fact, a spokesperson for Foxx questioned the timing of the Smollett indictment:
“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same. What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” the Foxx campaign wrote.
“James Comey-like timing” is a not-so-subtle signal to progressives that the special prosecutor is about to cost her the election. Just yesterday the Chicago Sun Times endorsed Foxx’s re-election run even while admitting she badly bungled the Smollett case:
From the moment Smollett was charged with lying to the Chicago police about some faked-up mugging outside his Near North Side apartment, Foxx should have hung up the phone on any politically connected attorney trying to plead the actor’s case.
And Foxx’s office should not have allowed Smollett to walk until he did the bare minimum — admit in writing that he had made it all up. The police deserved better than that.
We’ll have to wait on a report by a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, to learn all that transpired. There is no doubt the Smollett case was the one great pratfall of Foxx’s first term.
We endorse her all the same. It would be an injustice to allow a single high-profile mistake to overshadow her accomplishments.
Hopefully Smollett will finally go to jail and Kim Foxx will lose her re-election campaign over how she a) handled the case and b) lied to the public about it. But we’ll have to see if voters care and if a jury will convict a famous man who still claims he was a victim.
Update: Here’s a local news report from CBS Chicago.