As the questions grow surrounding the stunning decision by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett, a central figure in the controversy issued a statement Wednesday.
Tina Tchen, a ex-aide to former First Lady Michelle Obama said she knew the Smollett family and Kim Foxx from “prior work together” with each of them:
I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together. Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together. My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.
Former Michelle Obama Chief of Staff Tina Tchen releases a statement about reaching out to @SAKimFoxx on behalf of Jussie Smollett. pic.twitter.com/nCEii7XJXb
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) March 27, 2019
In comments to the Chicago Tribune yesterday, Foxx said she regretted speaking to a family member of Smollett’s during the course of the investigation:
Foxx said she would never have gotten involved if she knew that Smollett would later be deemed a suspect and not a victim.
“I’ve never had a victim that turned into a suspect,” she told the Tribune on Wednesday. “… In hindsight as we see (how) all of it has played out, you know, is there regret that I engaged with the family member? Absolutely.”
Due to her contact with that family member, Foxx withdrew from involvement in the case when investigators started casting suspicion on Smollett, who had reported to police that he was the victim of a hate crime.
As to the question of whether or not she was officially and legally recused from the case:
After questions arose this week whether she had followed state law, Foxx’s office appeared to back off whether she ever officially recused herself in the first place.
While the term “recusal “ was used when it was announced she was stepping away from the Smollett case, a Foxx spokeswoman said, “it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense.”
Tchen’s statement is unlikely to calm the speculation surrounding her involvement in the case and her communications with Foxx. Specifically, among the biggest questions are if Michelle Obama herself – also a friend of Smollett’s – played a role in getting Tchen to contact Foxx on Smollett’s behalf and, ultimately, in persuading the prosecutor’s office to get the charges against him dropped.
For those who have lost hope that Smollett will face justice for what he’s alleged to have done, remember that he is not out of the woods just yet. The federal investigation into alleged mail fraud involving the actor is still ongoing.
—Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–