Chicago’s top prosecutor did not formally recuse herself from the Jussie Smollett case after it was revealed she spoke with a family friend of the Empire actor about the investigation, CNN reports. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office reportedly told the network Foxx only “separated herself” from the “decision-making” in the case, and her actions did not stem from a conflict of interest. “Although we used the term ‘recuse’ as it relates to State’s Attorney Foxx’s involvement in this matter, it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense,” the office said in a statement Thursday. Last month, office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton announced that Foxx had been removed from the case to address concerns that she was familiar with “potential witnesses in the case.” Foxx also previously told a local news station she recused herself when Smollett was becoming a suspect in the case.
Text messages obtained by CNN reportedly showed Foxx discussing the case with Smollett family friend and former chief of staff for first lady Michelle Obama Tina Tchen, who wrote to Foxx that the family had “concerns about the investigation.” Foxx told the local news station at the time that she spoke to Smollett’s family when the actor was still considered a victim of the attack rather than the perpetrator. Smollett was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after he allegedly staged a racial and homophobic attack against himself in late January. All charges against the star were dropped earlier this week, which Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a “whitewash of justice.”