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Kim Foxx & The Fortunate Son

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who bungled the Smollett case (CBS This Morning screenshot)

This is a thing. This is a thing that actually happened today:

Actor Jussie Smollett‘s attorney suggested the Osundairo brothers, two Nigerian men who claim Smollett hired them to stage a hate crime, may have been wearing “whiteface” during the incident.

Attorney Tina Glandian, who appeared n NBC’s Today show this morning, pushed the theory after being asked about Smollett’s claim that he was attacked by a white man.

“He only saw one of the attackers. One of them he didn’t see. He saw one through a ski mask,” Glandian said. “Again, he could not see their body. Everything was covered, and he had a full ski mask on except the area around the eyes.”

“He did tell police that he — from what we saw, he thought it was pale skin or white or pale skin, was I think what he said,” she added. “And that was what he — and that’s why he initially did have a hard time.”

Glandian continued by suggesting Osundairo brothers had worn whiteface in the past — during a skit as The Joker from Batman in clown makeup — and may have done it again:

“Well, you know, I mean, I think there’s — obviously, you can disguise that. You can put makeup on. There is, interestingly enough, a video. You know, I think police had minimal investigation in this case, it took me only five minutes to Google. You know, I was looking up the brothers, and one of the videos that showed up actually was of the brothers in whiteface doing a joker monologue with white makeup on him. So, it’s not — it’s not implausible.”

[Insert O.J. Simpson “find the real killer” joke here.]

You should read Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who is having a ball beating up on corrupt Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx over her spectacularly awful handling of the Smollett case. Here’s his first column. Excerpt:

You might say Foxx bathed [Smollett] 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.

From today’s Kass column, in which he makes fun of an e-mail Foxx sent out to her office seeking help on quieting the outrage over the big favor she did for Smollett:

And then came that panicky email Foxx’s office sent out, asking prosecutors for “examples of cases, felony preferable, where we, in exercising our discretion, have entered into verbal agreements with defense attorneys to dismiss charges against an offender if certain conditions were met, such as the payment of restitution, completion of community service, etc. but the defendant was not placed in a formal diversion program.”

In other words: Please help me. I’ve screwed up, and I need examples to show people that what I did is really not all that unusual.

I asked a Cook County judge about this.

“How stupid is it to put in writing that you’re advertising for excuses after the fact?” said the judge.

No further questions, Your Honor.

Today Foxx’s office admits that she lied to the public about recusing herself from the case over her prior conversations with Smollett family members over Jussie.


And in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, Foxx concedes that there was enough evidence against Smollett to convict him for having faked a hate crime, and that they would have gotten that conviction. Really, she says that! Her office allowed a man it believed was guilty of 17 felonies (staging the hate crime, and then lying to police about it), and would have been convicted of those felonies at trial, to walk away from having to answer for them in court. Foxx says, presumably with a straight face, that her office — remember, she’s claiming that she had nothing to do with this — chose to treat Smollett’s case like one of the “alternative prosecutions” it has pursued with low-level nonviolent offenders.

That’s a weak excuse:

Smollett likely wouldn’t have gone to jail, but the way his case was concluded was different from “alternative prosecutions” typically pursued in Cook County, said Richard Kling, an IIT-Kent Law School professor with a large roster of clients facing charges in the same courthouse where Smollett had held his triumphant press conference Tuesday. Deferred prosecutions or pre-trial diversion programs typically require some admission of guilt, a formal arrangement for community service hours and a period of probation before charges or dropped and a record can be expunged.

“In my 48 years of practice, I certainly have never seen a deferred prosecution done like that,” Kling said.

Because all the records have been sealed and expunged, we may never know why Jussie Smollett got such favorable treatment. Because there was not even an admission of guilt from Smollett, he and his lawyers are now going around claiming that he was telling the truth all along, and that Smollett really was assaulted by some MAGA strangers who may have been white, or may have been black men in whiteface. Who knows how long he’s going to drag out these lies?

I think this is mostly a case about celebrity and power, but given the details here, it is unavoidably about race. Smollett made widely reported allegations that he was beaten by white men who claimed to be Trump supporters punishing him for being black and gay. It became a national news story, with top politicians sounding off about it (e.g., Sen. Kamala Harris called it a “modern-day lynching.”) The story was always implausible, but as the investigation continued, police found damning evidence showing that Smollett probably orchestrated the entire thing, most likely to boost his career.

If Smollett did this, then he exploited racial and political tension for the sake of increasing his fame, stirring up race hatred to get a bigger paycheck. This is a horrible thing. He should have been tried for it, and if found guilty, then at least forced to pay back the city for the cost of the investigation.

Instead, thanks to Kim Foxx — who believes he is guilty, and that her prosecutors could have proved that to a jury’s satisfaction in court — race-baiter Jussie Smollett walked away a free man, all the evidence against him chucked into a memory hole, as Foxx’s office wanted. Foxx didn’t even get an admission of guilt out of this dirtbag Smollett! (Here is a Q&A explainer about the case, with lots of details.)

Some independent Chicago bloggers found a bunch of people in Chicago who had, or have, charges like Smollett’s, who were treated very differently by the State’s Attorney’s office. None of them are celebrities. None of them had Obama connections.

So, let’s recap:

  1. Jussie Smollett went on national TV portraying himself as a victim of a violent anti-black, anti-gay hate crime perpetrated by Trump supporters
  2. An exhaustive police investigation found it likely that Smollett orchestrated the whole thing himself; a grand jury agreed
  3. In an unprecedented deal, prosecutors arranged to have all the charges against Smollett dismissed, with no admission of guilt by Smollett
  4. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx admits that she misled the public by claiming to have recused herself from the investigation, and says she believes that her office could have won a conviction against Smollett had it chosen to prosecute him — in other words, she admits that she let a guilty man go

Why? I had thought that the prospect of the FBI looking into this case was an imprudent idea, but now I’m wondering what, exactly, Kim Foxx is hiding.

The Smollett family is well connected in black movement circles. According to a New York Times profile of Jussie and sister Jurnee from 2016:

The Smolletts have also been outspoken politically and, since their school years, devoted to causes like H.I.V./AIDS prevention and ending apartheid. They were raised in the orbit of the Black Panthers and, lately, have lent their voices to the Black Lives Matter movement. Their trajectory, from child stars to successful adults, is born of their family and its history of activism.

“Their sense of justice is very strong, and it permeates everything that they do,” said Alfre Woodard, who has known Jussie and Jurnee since they were children; they worked with her at the nonprofit Artists for a New South Africa. “They’re like a model sibling unit. They look out for each other, all the time. And they all reach across and say, ‘O.K., I got my foot in this door; here, grab my hand, we’re going in together.’”

Raised on a diet of classic films (they’ll gladly quote the 1945 version of “Mildred Pierce”), Jussie and Jurnee still count their mother, Janet Smollett, as their only acting coach. An African-American from New Orleans, Ms. Smollett met their father, Joel Smollett Sr., a Russian-Polish Jew, in the Bay Area, where they campaigned for civil rights. “My mom was in the movement with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, and one of her first mentors was Julian Bond,” Mr. Smollett said of the Black Panther founders and the civil rights leader. “To this day, Angela Davis is one of her dearest friends. We’ve spent Mother’s Day with Angela.”

Angela Davis, you’ll recall, was (and I believe still is) a communist. In 2014, she sent fraternal greetings to the Communist Party USA at its convention, pledging solidarity and saying that socialism “is our only hope.” The Smollett family have been involved in radical class and race politics for a long time. Did they call in favors among black radical elites, who might have pressured Kim Foxx? Is this the activist community protecting the fortunate son of one of its own?

This is all potent stuff in the age of populism. Now all we need to find out is that Jussie is headed to Stanford for a master’s degree.



about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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