Chicago, IL – The special prosecutor tasked with investigating Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case announced Monday that the prosecutor’s office had abused its discretion but not actually done anything criminal.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said on July 17 that his investigation had determined that Foxx and her office had made several false or misleading statements about the Smollett case that could be violations of legal ethics but they hadn’t done anything to merit criminal charges, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The conclusion of Webb’s report said the handling of the former “Empire” actor’s case was marked by disarray and misleading statements, according to FOX News.
But Webb also said he didn’t find any evidence that would support criminal charges against anyone in the state’s attorney’s office.
Nor did the special prosecutor find evidence of undue influence by anyone on the disposition of the case, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
He did find there were unauthorized leaks by police; however, the source of the leaks could not be identified and there was no evidence to support any criminal charges related to that.
Foxx recently won a hotly-contested Democratic primary to reclaim her seat in the November election but there was much speculation about what would happen if she was charged with wrongdoing in connection with the Smollett case before Election Day.
The prosecutor has been endorsed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot despite the controversy over her handling of the Smollett case and the fact the city is under a siege of violent crime and, most recently, violent riots that left whole sections of the city in tatters.
Foxx has been under fire since the scandal with her office involving the arrest and dismissal of the charges against Smollett.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in connection with faking the attack on himself.
But then on March 26, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for the cost of the overtime the police department incurred while investigating the hoax and the actor has counter-sued for malicious prosecution.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
Smollett was charged with six new counts of disorderly conduct on Feb. 11 for filing false police reports in connection with a faux hate attack he allegedly planned and executed on himself in January of 2019, WBBM reported.
The special prosecutor said in his statement about the indictment that his office “obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] resolved the Smollett case,” WBBM reported.
Webb said the prosecutor’s office had not been able to provide evidence that Smollett’s case had been handled similarly to other cases when the charges were dropped, which was the excuse that Foxx provided at the time.
The special prosecutor’s report on Aug. 17 found Foxx’s office had abused its discretion when they dropped the charges against Smollett without him admitting guilt or any wrongdoing, FOX News reported.
Webb found that Foxx or her office had misled the public after the charges were dismissed when they claimed there was a cap on how much restitution Smollett could be ordered to pay.
He also found they also falsely claimed Smollett had no prior criminal record despite the fact he had a known DUI conviction, FOX News reported.
The report also said Foxx lied to the press about when she talked to Tchen and Smollett’s sister and said those communications happened after the state’s attorney learned the actor had become a suspect instead of a victim.
Although the special prosecutor didn’t find enough to support criminal charges, he did find evidence “that may rise to the level of a violation of legal ethics by State’s Attorney Foxx” and other Cook County prosecutors “relating to false and/or misleading public statements made about the prosecution,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Foxx announced hours after the report was released that she will be stepping back from her campaign temporarily because her husband had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was scheduled to have surgery next week, WMAQ reported.