Chicago’s police union is calling for the Justice Department to investigate Cook County State’s Attorney General Kim Foxx for intervening in the Jussie Smollett hate hoax investigation.
Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham sent a letter to the Justice Department last week to request an investigation into Foxx’s involvement in the case after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed she contacted Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to urge him to ask the FBI to take over Smollett’s case.
The black gay actor on the Fox television show “Empire” claimed he was the victim of a hate crime and Chicago police initially treated Smollett as a victim. Eventually, the investigation revealed Smollett staged the stunt with the help of two brothers to frame Trump supporters and bolster his career, police allege.
Amid the investigation, a former chief of staff for former first lady Michelle Obama, Tina Tchen, contacted Foxx on behalf of the Smollett family. Tchen connected Foxx with the family and the State’s Attorney General followed through on a request to personally ask Johnson to attempt to transfer the investigation to the FBI, according to emails and texts obtained by the Sun-Times through a public information request.
Not long after, Foxx recused herself from the case, and the FBI did not take over the investigation.
“That recusal is wholly insufficient,” Graham wrote in a statement. “In order for Ms. Foxx to properly charge and try this case, her entire office should have recused itself and a special prosecutor been appointed.”
Graham wants the feds to investigate whether Foxx broke any laws, WLS reports.
“Such conduct merits a review by your office,” read the FOP president’s letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to a FOP blog. “Private attorneys are not allowed to interfere with ongoing police investigations, particularly at the request of private individuals associated with subjects being investigated by the police, in this case, a subject later determined to be the offender, not the victim.”
Smollett pleaded not guilty last week to 16 felonies for filing a false police report. The 36-year-old actor still vehemently denies staging the homophobic and racist attack in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
Police allege Smollett was unhappy with his “Empire” salary and first mailed a racist and threatening letter to himself at Fox studios in Chicago to gain attention. When that did work as well as he’d hoped, Smollett paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the alleged hate crime.
Smollett told investigators racists were hanging about in downtown Chicago’s sub-zero temperatures at 2 a.m. when they recognized him from “Empire” and shouted racial slurs. He said the two men physically beat him while yelling racist and homophobic epithets, then put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him before running off into the night. Smollett claimed the ordeal involved the men screaming that Chicago, one of the most liberal cities in America, is “MAGA country.”
Chicago police pursued the case as high profile politicians and celebrities decried the “modern day lynching,” including several Democratic presidential candidates. Mainstream media also amplified Smollett’s claims as fact, and pointed to the alleged “hate crime” as evidence Trump supporters are racist homophobes.
The investigation eventually unearthed zero footage of the alleged attack, despite hundreds of hours of video surveillance in the downtown area. The investigation turned toward Smollett when police caught up with two men who appeared on surveillance at Smollett’s apartment building on the night of the alleged attack.
The men told police the actor hired them for $4,000 to help with the stunt and video surveillance of them purchasing supplies allegedly used in the crime supported their claims.
Smollett donned aviator shades, a groomed beard and a fancy jacket as he strutted past reporters with an entourage in tow to plead not guilty during a hearing in Cook County Circuit Court, the Associated Press reports.
Smollett ignored reporters, while his attorney did the talking, alleging the case is “prosecutorial overkill.”
Supporters outside the courthouse also defended the actor, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
“Jussie has been a person of high caliber and character,” LGBT activist Wisdom Cole told the AP. “He comes from an activist family. He has a consistent track record and history of supporting marginalized people … and so his track record is not on par with the idea of a hoax.”