Tina Tchen, an attorney and former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, has come under renewed scrutiny for her involvement in the Jussie Smollett case after prosecutors dropped all charges against the actor.
Tchen, a friend of the Smollett family, contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx with ‘concerns’ about the investigation days after Smollett claimed he’d been victimized in a hate crime.
‘I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and the family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,’ Tchen, 63, wrote in an email to Foxx on February 1, three days after the purported attack, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Now, after Foxx’s office on Tuesday dropped all 16 felony counts of filing a false police report against Smollett, while admitting that they still believe he staged the hate crime as a hoax, Tchen’s involvement in the affair is drawing fresh attention.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Tchen defended her involvement in the case, saying: ‘I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together. Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together.’
‘My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public,’ Tchen added.
Tchen graduated from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and began practicing law in 1983.
While working as an attorney with international law firm Skadden Arps in the 1990s and 2000s, she was a regular donor to Democrat political candidates, disclosure records show.
In 2009, she joined the Obama White House with an appointment to the Office of Public Engagement.
She worked in the Obama Administration throughout the following eight years, including as as assistant to the president, chief of staff for Michelle Obama, and executive director of the Council on Women and Girls.
Tchen currently leads the Chicago branch of Buckley LLP, where she focuses on gender and diversity issues in the workplace.
Last week, she was hired by the Southern Poverty Law Center to examine the troubled group’s workplace culture after the co-founder was fired and the president resigned.
Tchen has accumulated a number of awards, including the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement award from the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession and the Women of Achievement award from the Anti-Defamation League, among many others.
Tchen became involved in the Smollett case when she contacted Foxx on February 1, three days after the Empire actor claimed that two white men had assaulted him in the street shouting racist and anti-gay slurs, as well as slogans of President Donald Trump.
Tchen wanted Foxx to convince Chicago police to hand the investigation over to the FBI, and Foxx agreed to try.
Several hours later, Foxx received a text message from one of Smollett’s relatives.
Foxx indicated that she was trying to get the investigation turned over to the FBI.
‘Spoke to the [police] superintendent earlier, he made the ask. Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted,’ Foxx wrote.
‘Omg this would be a huge victory,’ Smollett’s relative replied to the prosecutor.
Foxx replied: ‘I make no guarantees but I’m trying.’
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Keith Griffith