clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Emanuel defends Kim Foxx after text messages add fuel to fire of Smollett case

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday said Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx should not resign. | File photos

Text messages that reveal State’s Attorney Kim Foxx thought her office may have been “overcharging” Jussie Smollett are not grounds for resignation, but should be investigated by the county’s inspector general, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

“I don’t think the answer to the challenge here is for the state’s attorney to step down. … She got elected. She should serve out her term,” Emanuel said.

“We now have an inspector general who will give all of us — not just some text messages — answers to all the questions that have been piling up because this was not on the level and did not add up. … Then you’ll have all the answers to the questions that … are legitimate questions that deserve thorough answers.”

Last week, Foxx asked Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard to investigate her office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case.

That was before Tuesday, when the state’s attorney’s office released a pile of emails and text messages that added even more fuel to the fire.

RELATED: Dropping charges against Smollett a ‘whitewash of justice,’ Rahm says

Although Foxx publicly claimed to have recused herself, she texted the top deputy she put in charge of the Smollett case the day a grand jury handed up the 16-count indictment against Smollett; police said he staged a hate crime hoax against himself.

In her text, Foxx made an unfavorable comparison to the counts against R. Kelly filed just weeks earlier.

“Soo … I’m recused, but when people start accusing us of overcharging cases … 16 counts on a Class 4 becomes exhibit A,” Foxx texted the night the indictment was announced.

“Yes I can see here that can be seen as excessive,” Magats replied.

“(A pedophile) with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it’s indicative of something we should be looking at generally,” Foxx continued.

“Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.”

On the day the state’s attorney’s office dropped obstruction of justice charges against the “Empire” actor, Emanuel called it a “whitewash of justice.”

TIMELINE: The Jussie Smollett investigation

He said nothing about how the case was handled was on the up and up. At the very least, Emanuel argued that Chicago taxpayers and the police officers who painstakingly investigated the case deserved an admission of guilt, an apology and reimbursement for investigative expenses, which the city is now demanding in a lawsuit seeking triple damages.

Instead, Smollett was allowed to walk after forfeiting the $10,000 in bond money he put up and spending two days performing community service at Rainbow PUSH.

Foxx faced intense scrutiny even before that for attempting to persuade Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson to transfer the investigation to the FBI at a time when Smollett was still viewed as the victim of a hate crime.

At the time, Foxx had been contacted by an influential supporter of the “Empire” actor: Tina Tchen, a Chicago attorney and former chief of staff for former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Foxx recused herself from the heater case, but never did so formally. She initially claimed the police investigation produced strong evidence that Smollett engineered a hate crime hoax, then said there were problems with the evidence.

The Fraternal Order of Police has joined suburban police chiefs in demanding the state’s attorney’s resignation. The FOP has also demanded a federal investigation of Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case.

Emanuel is not about to join the union representing rank-and-file Chicago Police officers in targeting the first African-American woman ever to serve as state’s attorney.

Foxx got elected in the political furor that followed the court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.

“This press conference is not like the Talmud. You don’t need a lot of interpretation. I don’t think she should resign,” Emanuel said Wednesday at an unrelated news conference to kick off street-paving season in Chicago.

“But I do think we need a report that answers all of the questions that have been piling up over the last three weeks … with a thorough analysis of the office and anybody else that was involved in what happened,” Emanuel said.

The retiring mayor says he sees no need for anybody other than Blanchard to take a look at the Smollett controversy.

“The IG is set up to handle exactly this. … And to her credit, she’s asked the inspector general to do that,” Emanuel said.