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Jussie Smollett case: Chicago prosecutor feared her office overcharged 'washed-up' actor

“Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx wrote in a newly released text message.
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Newly released text messages show that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who had recused herself from Jussie Smollett’s case, discussed it nonetheless with staff and worried the “Empire” actor was being overcharged.

Smollett was indicted on 16 counts by a grand jury in March for allegedly filing a false police report, charges that were later dropped by Foxx’s office.

Foxx recused herself from the Smollett case because she had spoken with one of the actor’s family members when she was under the impression he had been the victim of a hate crime.

Still, that didn’t stop her from chiming in on the case via a group chat with her colleagues at the state’s attorney’s office.

“Sooo…...I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases...16 counts on a class 4 [felony] becomes exhibit A,” Foxx wrote in newly released text messages that were requested by media outlets and had to be released under open record laws.

“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16.” Foxx added, apparently referring to the singer R. Kelly, who faced sexual abuse charges in Chicago.

Foxx added that “just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.”

The hundreds of texts and emails in the newly released documents also show how the office struggled to handle the onslaught of media requests throughout the Smollett case.

“Just wish I could have anticipated the magnitude of this response and planned a bit better!” Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier texted.

In a statement Tuesday night about the 1,300-page release, the state’s attorney’s office said, "As the case is currently under review, we are not in a position to comment on specificities related to this topic."

Foxx, who was elected on a platform of criminal justice reform, defended the dropped charges in the Smollett case, writing in a March op-ed in The Chicago Tribune that she was “elected on a promise to rethink the justice system” and “to keep people out of prison who do not pose a danger to the community.”

“I promised to spend my office’s finite resources on the most serious crimes in order to create communities that are both safer and fairer,” she wrote. The city of Chicago is now seeking $130,000 from Smollett, for the overtime Chicago Police worked to investigate the case.

On Friday, Foxx announced that she had asked the county Inspector General to look into her office’s handling of the Smollett case, saying she “welcomes this investigation.”

CORRECTION (April 17, 2019, 12:20 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the actor's last name in a headline. He is Jussie Smollett, not Smollet.