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Kim Foxx sidesteps Smollett case over ‘familiarity with potential witnesses’

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett investigation after facilitating conversations between Smollett’s family and the Chicago Police Department, the state’s attorney’s office said Wednesday.

“Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident,” Robert Foley, a senior adviser to Foxx, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

“Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor,” he added.

The clarification came less than 24 hours after Foxx announced her recusal, in which she initially cited “potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.”

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Foley did not respond to questions about when Foxx had those conversations and didn’t say what prompted the conversations between Foxx and Smollett’s family.

Smollett has told police he was walking in the 300 block of East North Water Street about 2 a.m. Jan. 29 when two men walked up to him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured a substance — possibly bleach — on him and put a “thin, light rope” around his neck. The incident has been investigated as a hate crime.

Smollett’s claims have been scrutinized in the subsequent weeks. As of Wednesday, police said Smollett was “officially classified” as a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a police report.

Two brothers — once considered suspects in reported attack — have met with police and prosecutors twice in recent days.

Foxx is also connected to one of the members of Smollett’s legal team. Records show that Vic Henderson, one of Smollett’s attorneys, gave $250 to Foxx’s campaign in 2016.