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FOP renews calls for investigation into Foxx ‘interference’ in Smollett case

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Fraternal Order of Police on Tuesday unleashed its anger at Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx after charges were dropped against Jussie Smollett and renewed its call for a federal investigation into Foxx’s “interference” in the case.

“The conduct of her office from the very beginning of this cases was highly, highly suspicious,” Martin Preib, the FOP’s second vice president, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The entire country is outraged by it. The evidence is overwhelming that he was legitimately charged in this case. This decision [to drop the charges] appears to be utterly arbitrary, capricious and suspicious.”

That criticism was echoed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who spoke to reporters at Navy Pier after a graduation ceremony for new and promoted CPD officers.

“From top to bottom, this is not on the level,” Emanuel said, adding that it looks like another case where the wealthy and famous are treated differently.

A grand jury, Emanuel added, saw only a little of the evidence, and it was enough for them to return an indictment.

Now, “Mr. Smollett is still saying he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare he? How dare he?” Emanuel said. “Is there no decency in this man?”

Added Johnson: “If you want to say you are innocent, you take your day in court. … I would never hide behind a brokered deal.”

CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson (left) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel speak to reporters at Navy Pier about the decision to drop all charges against actor Jussie Smollett. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times
CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson (left) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel speak to reporters at Navy Pier about the decision to drop all charges against actor Jussie Smollett. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

The FOP initially demanded a federal investigation to determine whether Foxx acted inappropriately when she tried to persuade Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson to transfer the investigation of Smollett’s claim of being the target of a hate crime to the FBI.

In renewing the call for a federal investigation into what he called Foxx’s political “interference” on behalf of the Smollett family, Preib argued that the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to drop the charges “only gives more foundation to our claims.”

Foxx’s initial request that Johnson transfer the case to the FBI came after an influential supporter of the “Empire” actor reached out to Foxx personally: Tina Tchen, a Chicago attorney and former chief of staff for former first lady Michelle Obama, according to emails and text messages provided by Foxx to the Sun-Times in response to a public records request.

Foxx recused herself from the investigation after facilitating conversations between Smollett’s family and the Chicago Police Department.

“The entire country is getting a window into the absurdity of the Chicago political and legal system,” Preib said.

Asked why he believes the charges were dropped, Preib said, “I have my dark suspicions, but it’s not appropriate to give voice to them just yet.”

The FOP was a strong supporter of former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was ousted by Foxx in the unrelenting furor over the court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.

The FOP has long accused Foxx and her political patron, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, of being soft on crime.

Preib said it was too soon to say whether the FOP would recruit and back a challenger to defeat Foxx in 2020.

“We’ve still got a lot of time. . . . The media in Chicago has pretty much treated her with kid gloves from the get-go. She vacated two convictions of a Spanish Cobra gang member in February and the media didn’t write one story about it,” he said.

“They have not looked into so much of what we’ve criticized about her administration. We hope the national media will do that now.”

TIMELINE: The Jussie Smollett investigation