After evidence came to light that the former chief of staff of Michelle Obama had attempted to intervene on behalf of the Smollett family to get the investigation turned over to the FBI, the ex-aid, prominent Chicago attorney Tina Tchen, has now gone on the record to confirm that she did contact the state's attorney whose office eventually let Smollett off the hook.
In a statement to USA Today on Wednesday, Tchen addressed reports that she had emailed Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to request on behalf of the Smolletts that the investigation be taken out of the hands of the Chicago Police Department, which would eventually conclude that Smollett had orchestrated an alleged "hoax" hate crime against himself.
"I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together," Tchen said in the statement Wednesday. "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."
After Tchen contacted Foxx to voice the Smollett family's "concerns" about how the Chicago police were handling the case, Foxx replied in a February 1 email: "Spoke to the Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation."
"Spoke to the superintendent earlier, he made the ask," Foxx told a Smollett family member whose name was redacted from released court documents. "Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted."
"Omg this would be a huge victory," the relative replied.
"I make no guarantees, but I’m trying," responded Foxx.
Foxx later told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Smollett family was concerned about leaks to the media and believed the FBI would keep a "tighter lid on the information."
Though Foxx said she recused herself from the case because of her contact with Tchen and the Smollett family, it was revealed this week that she did not in fact do so. As the Daily Wire's Emily Zanotti reported, Foxx was forced to admit an "egregious error" late Wednesday, "after National District Attorney's Association issued a scathing letter rebuking Foxx's office for their conduct during the Smollett affair":
Among their complaints, a prosecutor who recuses herself from a case should pull her entire staff from involvement in that case and appoint a "special prosecutor," or she risks tainting the entire operation with her conflict of interest.
It turns out that, although Foxx claimed to have "recused" herself from the Smollett case over concerns that she'd communicated with a member of Smollett's family, she never made her recusal official. The term was used "colloquially" rather than "legally," her office told Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.