Editor's note: Read the full set of documents in the links below. The second and third batches contain hundreds of pages. Please be patient as they load.
More than 2,000 pages of the case surrounding "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett's case were released Friday.
"In a continuing effort to provide transparency into the operations of this office, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx has authorized the one-time disclosure of certain materials the public is not normally able to obtain in criminal or civil cases," the state's attorney's office said in a statement. "These documents include, among other things, the work product of her senior felony trial staff, settlement communications, and documents which are exempt from Freedom of Information requests."
According to the documents, Foxx stepped down from the investigation after rumors that she was related to Smollett "became prevalent" in the Chicago police department ranks.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
In a text message included in the document release, Foxx told her chief ethics officer that the rumor "wasn't true."
"She said it was pervasive among CPD and that I should recuse," Foxx said in the text. "I thought it was dumb but acquiesced. It's actually just racist."
The documents can be read here:
Foxx also wanted the Chicago Police Department to turn over the Smollett case to the FBI. Text messages show Foxx discussing that potential direction in the investigation, saying that she would convince Superintendent Eddie Johnson to sign off on the plan.
Later, the FBI worried about being handed a "giant pile of poop," and ultimately didn't take up the investigation.
After the decision had been reached to drop the charges against Smollett, Foxx apparently told Johnson that the actor would be "paying $10,000 restitution to the city and completing community service."
Foxx went on to say that Johnson "seemed satisfied with the explanation."
Roughly 400 pages of documents were released Thursday as well, sent in three pdf documents by Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, including the original police report and supplemental reports from the case:
The materials are part of a multi-stage release that follows a judge's order to unseal Smollett's file.
Last week, the case file's unsealing detailed Jussie Smollett's conditions after posting $10,000 bail amid charges he lied about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack. One of the conditions was that he have no contact with two brothers police say he paid to help stage the incident.
Besides that detail, the "Empire" actor's criminal case file appears to contain little new information. The bulk of the more-than-250-page file centers on the legal battle between media organizations that wanted access to the file and Smollett's attorneys who wanted it kept sealed.
In his order for the file to be unsealed, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Steven Watkins said Smollett's actions before and after his case was dismissed did not appear to be those of someone seeking to maintain his privacy. Smollett's lawyers had argued that since the charges were dropped, the actor had "the right to be left alone."
Watkins' decision, which followed requests by The Associated Press and other media organizations to make the file public, said there were good arguments for keeping the file sealed but that Smollett forfeited his right to protect his privacy by talking to the media.
The actor had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when telling them that two masked men beat him in January in downtown Chicago, shouted slurs at him, doused him with a chemical substance and looped a rope around his neck. Police still insist Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox TV show and wanted publicity.
Prosecutors dismissed all charges, though, with little explanation on March 26.
The judge wrote last week that Smollett "voluntarily appeared on national television for an interview speaking about the incident in detail. After the March 26 dismissal, he voluntarily stood in front of cameras from numerous news organizations in the courthouse lobby and spoke about the case. On several occasions, attorneys for Defendant, presumably with his authorization, appeared on various media outlets speaking about the case."
The judge added, "These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone."
Natalie Spears, an attorney representing media organizations that wanted the file unsealed, applauded Watkins' decision.
"This is about transparency and trust in the system and we believe the public has a right to know what the government did and why," she said Thursday after the hearing.