The special prosecutor who secured convictions this month against Jussie Smollett said the way the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office resolved the former “Empire” star’s initial criminal charges was a “disgrace” and that Kim Foxx and others in her office lied to the public about how it went down.
In an interview Tuesday with “Chicago Tonight,” special prosecutor Dan Webb said Foxx’s office “cannot explain” how it came to the decision to dismiss the original disorderly conduct indictment filed against Smollett, calling that move “massive confusion and an operational failure.”
“To totally dismiss the entire case, require no plea of guilty by Mr. Smollett at all … just give him a complete pass so he can walk out on the street and say to Chicago: ‘Goodbye, I did nothing wrong and I’m out of here,’ after what he did to the Chicago Police Department, for that resolution to have occurred is a disgrace,” he said. “It is a disgrace and that’s what caused this whole thing.”
Webb’s comments come a day after a judge unsealed a summary report detailing the special prosecutor’s investigation into Foxx and her office’s actions surrounding the Smollett case.
In it, Webb and his team said members of the state’s attorney’s office could not explain why they moved to dismiss that first wave of charges just 19 days after Smollett was indicted for orchestrating a fake racist and homophobic attack on himself.
Though the special prosecutor found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Foxx or anyone else in her office, he did say this case represented a “major failure of operations.”
After Foxx backed away from the Smollett case, her then-first assistant Joseph Magats and another assistant state’s attorney, Risa Lanier, took over the prosecution. But when asked in interviews with Webb’s team, who crafted that deal with Smollett, those two each pointed the finger at one another.
“Every single leader in that office who who had formerly been in that office — we interviewed 43 of them — every one of them said ‘This is unheard of,’ unless you have some substantial change of evidence, and that could happen, (but) every one of them said that did not happen here,” Webb said.
Webb said Foxx and others then lied to the public about why the case was dismissed, claiming they had disposed of 5,700 cases in a similar fashion. During his investigation, Webb said he subpoenaed Foxx’s office to find even one case that had been resolved in a similar manner to Smollett’s.
“They couldn’t produce a single case, and yet they lied to the public and said they had 5,700 similar cases,” he said. “I just think that’s an operational failure of a fairly big magnitude.”
During her interview with Webb’s team, Foxx herself said she was surprised by how Magats and Lanier resolved the case, and suggested the case may have been handled that way because they “wanted this guy out of town.”
Foxx's legal counsel Michael Bromwich on Tuesday called Webb’s report “deeply flawed.” He again told “Chicago Tonight” that Webb’s team found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and no evidence that Foxx was involved in the case after she recused herself.
He also took issue with Webb’s finding that Foxx lied to the public.
“It’s disappointing that Mr. Webb’s team suggested that every erroneous statement, every incorrect statement, every inaccurate statement is false and misleading,” Bromwich said.
He instead claimed those statements could be attributed to bad information or a “failed recollection.”
Webb was appointed as the special prosecutor in the Smollett matter months after those initial charges were dismissed. He eventually indicted the actor again on six counts of disorderly conduct for lying to the Chicago Police Department about the hoax hate crime.
Earlier this month, a jury convicted Smollett on five of those six counts. He is set to be sentenced sometime next year, though an official date has not yet been scheduled.
Webb on Tuesday said that although some “want to minimize what (Smollett) did … he engaged in substantial, serious criminal misconduct.”
“He did lie to the Chicago Police Department continually and cost this city $130,000 in overtime pay and put this city through hell,” Webb said. “That was wrong, it wasn’t an insignificant crime, he lied and reported a false crime to (Chicago police), but then he compounded it.”