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Jussie Smollett Case Takes a New Turn

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from the investigation
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2019 12:08 PM CST
In this Aug. 8, 2017 file photo, Jussie Smollett participates in the "Empire" panel during the FOX Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – The Jussie Smollett case has taken another turn, and it's one that doesn't come with much explanation. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday recused herself from the investigation, and offered a one-sentence explanation via a rep: "Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case." The Chicago Tribune notes that no further information has been provided about the witnesses or Foxx's relationship to them; the announcement came hours after the two brothers who were originally arrested in the case, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, spoke with prosecutors and detectives at the courthouse.

Reuters takes a look at what could happen if the alleged attack on Smollett turns out to have been staged, and it's not great. A felony charge of falsifying a police report has a possible sentence of one to three years in prison; if Smollett had a hand in the threatening letter that was mailed to the Empire set a week before the alleged attack, a federal mail fraud charge is also possible. It turns out Smollett has been charged with crimes in the past. NBC News received confirmation from the LA City Attorney's office that in 2007 Smollett pleaded no contest to DUI, driving without a license, and providing false info and was sentenced to probation. Per the criminal complaint against him, Smollett allegedly gave his younger brother's name upon being pulled over and signed a false name on his promise to appear in court, reports the AP. (Sources say Smollett was not happy with the reaction to the aforementioned letter.)

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