Chicago (CBS) — After the current Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself Tuesday from the Jussie Smollett criminal investigation, her predecessor had some scathing words about the decision in an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards.
Anita Alvarez lost the Democratic nomination for State’s Attorney to Foxx in 2016, but she said her comments are “absolutely not” about sour grapes.
“It’s about doing your job,” Anita Alvarez told Edwards. “It’s about doing the job that the citizens of Cook County elected you to do. And I don’t believe she’s doing her job.”
Alvarez recused herself from other big cases, none bigger than that of former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of the murder of Laquan McDonald.
“I did the investigation with the feds and I charged that case. I didn’t recuse myself until after I lost the election,” she told CBS 2. “And Officer Van Dyke, where is he now? He’s been convicted of the charges in which I charged him.”
Alvarez, who held the county office from 2008 to 2016, posted on Facebook Wednesday:
“Maybe I should have just recused myself from the difficult cases that came across my desk when I was State’s Attorney. I was under the impression that when the voters elected me and I took my oath of office it meant I had to do my job.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released the following statement about her recusal from the criminal investigation Wednesday afternoon:
“Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident. Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor.”
Here is an expanded exchange between Edwards and Alvarez:
BE: You have been out of office and virtually off the radar for for two years.
AA: I have been.
BE: And you dropped a hammer today.
AA: I did.
BE: Why was today the day?
AA: Here we go again, here we go again — this an opportunity for her to do her job and she’s not doing it.
BE: You’re statement drops a hammer on the current State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
AA: It does.
BE: And you lost to her and some might look at this and say that looks a lot like sour grapes.
AA: I’ve been out of office for two years. It’s about doing your job. It’s about doing your job you are elected to do … and I don’t think she’s doing her job.
BE: You have recused yourself in big cases none bigger than Officer [Jason] Van Dyke, accused and now convicted of murdering Laquan McDonald. What do you say to that?
AA: Well remember Brad, I am the one who charged Officer Van Dyke. I charged that case. I did the investigation with the feds. I didn’t recuse myself until after I lost the election and Officer Van Dyke, where is he now? He’s been convicted — next question.
BE: Kim Foxx said she’s recused herself from the case, but her office will still handle it.
AA Well, I find that interesting.
BE: Have you ever recused yourself and not your office?
AA: No, no.
BE: But Kim Foxx in this case is recusing herself, yet saying saying her office will still handle it.
AA: Right and the person she put in charge is her first assistant and he reports to who, the state’s attorney.
I feel that if she was going to recuse herself from the very get-to, there didn’t seem to be a problem when he was the alleged victim.
Now the decision has to be made if Mr. Smollett has to be charged and she’s throwing up her hand and saying I have a conflict.
I think the public needs to know what is the actual conflict. If you recuse yourself you tell them what the conflict is and she hasn’t done that.
BE: No matter how you cut it, it’s gonna be a helluva case.
AA: This is heater case, and while we all like to have jobs where everything goes perfectly, that doesn’t happen in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. But again, when you’re the elected sitting in that seat. This is what you’re supposed to do.