By John Kass
March 27, 2019
Cook County state's attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Ill., February 23, 2019.(Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)
In some cities, people might be shocked if the mayor called out the prosecutor for running a crooked system that allowed a Hollywood star like the smarmy Jussie Smollett to walk away from charges he created a fake hate crime.
But this is Chicago, and is there anything, really, that surprises Chicago anymore?
Thanks to the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Smollett gets to walk away from 16 felony counts of a grand jury indictment. Her office dropped all charges.
Smollett blamed the alleged attack on mythical Trump supporters. According to his story, he apparently fought them off with a tuna fish sandwich in one hand and his cellphone in the other, just like real Hollywood tough guy Jason Momoa.
But there’s more to it. There’s always more to it.
Kim Foxx’s office didn’t merely drop all the charges against Smollett, not long after Foxx began playing “Obama Celebrity Friends” with former first lady Michelle Obama’s onetime chief of staff.
Foxx’s office dropped the charges, yes. But also as part of the deal, her office wiped him clean. His record was expunged.
The stain of the 16 counts in the indictment was scrubbed right off him.
You might say Foxx bathed him in the waters of the Chicago Way, cleansed him, and made a new man out of him.
And now he’s smirking at the city, the mayor, the cops, everyone. Can’t wait until he files that multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
“Foxx expunged it all,” said a top Chicago police official. “The media’s really not focusing on that. What does it mean? It means you’ll never see the (police) interviews or read the notes.
“The case has been expunged. I can’t even tell you if Jussie Smollett was ever arrested or charged,” the official said. “Charged with what? Faking hate crimes? Indictments, what indictments? She wiped him clean.”
Foxx isn’t saying much. She hasn’t said much at all since it was learned that she’d been contacted about Smollett by lawyer Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff.
Tchen reportedly wanted Foxx’s help to lobby the Chicago Police Department and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. It didn’t work.
Foxx was out over her skis on that one, completely out of her depth. She was compromised and was compelled to recuse herself in the case.
Now that Robert Mueller is free, I wonder if he could subpoena Foxx to ask if Michelle and Barack like to watch “Empire,” the TV show that made Smollett famous.
Toni Preckwinkle, Foxx’s political patron and candidate for mayor of Chicago, doesn’t have much to say either. Too bad.
Because Preckwinkle did more than merely help Foxx get elected. Preckwinkle is not only the president of the Cook County Board. She’s chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.
But to be a true boss, Toni needed the prosecutor’s office for real leverage. And Kim Foxx was made.
“I’m not a lawyer and I’m not the state’s attorney,” Preckwinkle said Tuesday when asked about Foxx’s decision at a mayoral debate. “I think it’s really important that the state’s attorney be allowed to provide a fuller explanation as time goes on.”
As time goes on? Really? What about now, Toni?
You elected her. She’s your political creation. She’s not your hand, but she is your muscle. And time’s running out for talking, Toni.
After Foxx had to recuse herself from the case for playing Obama Celebrity Friends, Joseph Magats, the first assistant state’s attorney, took over.
“The fact that (Smollett) feels we have exonerated him, we have not,” Magats told the Tribune. “I can’t make it any clearer.”
You can’t make it any clearer? Well, I can’t make this any clearer.
Smollett is a star. Your boss jammed herself up some way we don’t know about. But she jammed herself. And so, you cut him a deal.
You expunged him. You let him work off “community service” with a couple of days doing odd jobs at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. I hoped he sold a few Jesse Jackson action figures. But then Rainbow/PUSH said it had no idea his volunteer work had anything to do with the criminal case.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t waste time. He put the rhetorical boots to Foxx, and later, his buddy David Axelrod twisted the knife in there too, just as Axelrod twisted the knife in Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez, when Alvarez was the fall guy for the Laquan McDonald fiasco.
“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said.
Rahm Emanuel is precise with his word weapons. Even when angry, he pauses and considers the meaning and context of each thrust, unlike his predecessor, who babbled and blurted.
Emanuel used “whitewash” about half a dozen times at his news conference. It was no accident.
“And it sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power you’ll get treated one way. Other people will be treated another way,” Emanuel said. “There is no accountability in the system. It is wrong. Full stop.”
It was a clear political indictment of a fellow Democrat who climbed up the ladder of identity politics.
He was asked: What about the politics of all this?
“To the state’s attorney,” he said, “the question about whether it was politically motivated or not is something you have to ask them, because only they can answer their motivation.”
And only under oath.
Listen to "The Chicago Way" podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — atwww.wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.