Cook County, Ill., State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx never legally recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case, her office said Thursday.
“The State’s Attorney did not formally recuse herself or the Office based on any actual conflict of interest,” Foxx’s spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said in a statement, two days after the charges against the "Empire" actor were dropped. “As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor under [state law].”
The spokeswoman said Foxx’s office used the word “recuse” to talk about her involvement in the case as a “colloquial use” rather than the legal definition of the term.
Wow. Foxx’s office now admitting she didn’t *actually* recuse herself from the Smollett case, legally speaking. They just used that word “colloquially,” for public consumption. pic.twitter.com/b63Mhct2ln— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 28, 2019
Foxx’s office said in February she had recused herself from Smollett’s case, which began with him alleging he was a victim of a hate crime, after she had exchanged text messages with Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff Tina Tchen, who is a close friend of the Smollett family. The revelation of those texts prompted calls from the police union for an investigation.
“I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,” Tchen said in a text sent to Foxx on Feb. 3 before 5 a.m.
Smollett, 36, claimed he was attacked earlier this year in downtown Chicago by two masked white men who shouted racist and homophobic remarks at him on Jan. 29. Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed they put a noose around his neck and threw what he believed was bleach on him.
In February, the Chicago Police Department announced there was significant evidence that Smollett orchestrated a hoax attack, which was initially investigated by police as a hate crime. According to police, Smollett paid two brothers $3,600 to carry out the assault and did so to advance his career.
Smollett has consistently said he is innocent.
In a shocking turn of events Tuesday, prosecutors dropped all charges against Smollett after he had been indicted by a grand jury earlier this month on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities, prompting backlash from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police.
Both Emanuel and the National District Attorney's Association said the charges were dropped against Smollett because he is both a public figure and has money.
In a tweet Thursday, President Trump said the FBI and Department of Justice would review the decision to drop the charges. "FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!" Trump said.