CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Sallet spoke with CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards in what is likely his last interview before he leaves his post on Friday.
Sallet’s team spearheaded one of Chicago’s great corruption probes – in which former Ald. Danny Solis wore a wire and ensnarled longtime powerhouse and former Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Ed Burke (14th) – and who knows who else.
Sallet told Edwards his favorite thing about Chicago is “everything.”
“I’m a Boston native, so Chicago to me represents the positives of Boston in a larger city – great sports town, great people town, great culture town,” he said. “Again, Boston and New York had a kid, and it’s Chicago – with the Midwestern charm.”
But Sallet was not so flattering when it came to corruption in Chicago.
Edwards was also wondering about former Ald. Solis and where he is.
Solis announced his retirement from the City Council last November, and it was then reported that he wore a wire for the FBI while talking with Ald. Burke. Burke remains in the City Council, but has been indicted on corruption charges.
Solis himself was being watched by the feds, as it was revealed that contributors supplied him with money, Viagra and sex acts.
Solis hasn’t been seen or heard from since it was revealed several months ago that he wore a wire for the FBI to tape his conversations with Burke.
Edwards tried to ask Sallet about that subject.
Edwards: “I know I can’t ask things case-specific, but if you were to have a politician powerbroker who wore a wire, and hasn’t been seen for months, sources have said he’s getting federal protection.”
But Sallet’s spokeswoman said, “We should move on from that one.”
So we did – pivoting to Chicago violence, and criticisms of how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handles criminal cases at the county level. Some have accused Foxx of being lenient on criminal defendants.
Sallet: “There are 115,000 self-admitted street gang members in the city of Chicago. That is an astronomical number. The partnerships in the Chicagoland area committed to keeping people safe, are second to none anywhere in the country.”
Edwards: “Yet, some would say you have a State’s Attorney who’s made a key priority bond reform, and in some cases, some might say, decriminalizing crime. Do you as federal law enforcement have an obligation to offset that?”
Sallet: “So I’m not going to comment on the political positions of different folks in this community. My job as a federal agent is to ensure that we are giving the city the best we can when it comes to investigating the people that we are capable of mitigating.”
Sallet has done just that. His expertise mapped al-Qaeda after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Sallet: “The lessons of 9/11 were lack of communication and lack of partnership. Everything we do in 2019 is a team.”
Sallet also supervised the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013.
Now, one of his high-profile cases is the Jussie Smollett case.
Smollett said he was attacked by two men, who doused him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck while using racial and homophobic slurs at 2 a.m. Jan. 29. Police later accused Smollett of orchestrating a fake hate crime.
Disorderly conduct charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office. But now, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb has been appointed as a special prosecutor to take a closer look at the case.
Edwards asked if he could ask Sallet about the Smollett case. The spokeswoman said, “You’re not going to get anything.”
A spokeswoman also said Sallet would not answer a question about President Donald Trump, his top boss, who often targets Chicago in tweets.
But Sallet did have some advice for his successor – Chicago native Emmerson Buie Jr.
Sallet: “So here’s the advice that I would give the incoming special agent-in-charge. We are blessed with some of the best men and women to fight crime and keep America safe. Keep partnerships going – they’re the best they’ve ever been. He’s a Chicago guy. He’s coming back here because he’s coming back to his city. It’s like a dream job for him to be back here in Chicago. And listen to the troops, because our troops are the best – and support them as they need to be supported.”
Sallet’s next job will take him back to FBI Headquarters out east. But his family will remain in Chicago, as this is now home.
Editor’s note: This story aired on CBS 2 and promoted as an exclusive interview. This article and video have been corrected to reflect that fact that it was not an exclusive to the station.