New text messages reveal that Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx was meddling in the Jussie Smollett case weeks after she claimed she’d recused herself — complaining that the “washed up celeb” faced too many charges.
Foxx’s office issued a statement recusing her on Feb. 19, though they later claimed she “did not formally recuse herself.”
But in March 8 text messages released Tuesday as part of a FOIA request from The Post and other outlets, Foxx tells First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joe Magats, who took over the case for her, that “I’m recused” — then went on to complain that the “Empire” star had been charged with too many crimes.
“Sooo …… I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases … 16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A,” Foxx wrote at the start of the exchange. Yes. I can see where that can be seen as excessive,” Magats replied.
Foxx then apparently compares Smollett’s 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to cops to singer R. Kelly’s 10 felony sex-abuse charges.
“Paedophile with 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. Agreed,” Magats answered. “I’ll get with Risa and Jim. With him taking over we can take a hard look at how we charge the cases and get it to something that covers what needs to be covered without being excessive and ultimately pointless,” Magats said.
He was likely referring to Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier, though it was not immediately clear who Jim is. “Yeah…it’s not who we want to be,” Foxx responded. To which Magats replied: “For sure.”
Just over two weeks later on March 26, prosecutors announced they would drop all charges against Smollett — though Magats admitted “I do not believe he is innocent.”
The texts are among dozens sent between Foxx and Magats after Foxx claimed she stepped away from the case.
In a March 1 message, Foxx asks Magats “How was this morning’s meeting? I’m free for a call.” Then on March 3, Magats reported that he gave Foxx’s number to a famous lawyer who was joining the case.
“…….. so Michael Avenatti reached out. Apparently he’s coming in to represent the Nigerian brothers in Smollet. I gave him your office number,” Magats wrote. Thanks,” Foxx replied.
Others were redacted — but Foxx’s office, which produced the files, did not always provide a reason. In a statement Tuesday night, Foxx claimed she was speaking generally and not about Smollett’s case.
“After the indictment became public, I reached out to Joe to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority,” the statement said.
Other texts showed prosecutor were blindsided by the response they got following their decision to drop the charges.
“Just wish I could have anticipated the magnitude of this response and planned a bit better!” Lanier wrote in a March 26 text to Magats. There’s really no planning for this. It’s the right decision,” Magats replied.
The trove of documents released also shows that, two days before charges were dropped, prosecutors received letters of support for Smollett from the Black AIDS Institute, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and The City Lights Orchestra, citing his activism and community service.
The city of Chicago is suing Smollett for refusing to repay taxpayers for the $130,000 in overtime payments made to police officers who investigated his alleged hoax.