Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney, was the person named at a Friday hearing, and based on his findings he could recommend the 16-count indictment Smollett received in March to be reinstated or request new charges to be filed.
The actor, who’s black and gay, said he was attacked by two men in Chicago in late January and they beat him, wrapped a noose around his neck and yelled racial and homophobic slurs.
The former “Empire” star also said the men yelled “MAGA country,” which derives from Donald Trump‘s “Make America Great Again” slogan. But Chicago police later accused Smollett of lying, and hiring brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to attack him and keep quiet about it.
Smollett, however, said he really was assaulted and never hired the brothers as claimed. But both the Osundaros were later seen on store video buying a red hat and ski mask, just one day before the alleged assault was reported.
After Friday’s hearing, Webb said he’ll move his investigation as quickly as possible and his final decision will be based solely on the evidence he finds.
“I intend to expedite everything. But the facts will take me where they take me,” Webb, who’s 73, told reporters. “I’m going to start fresh and see where it goes.”
Toomin first asked the state attorney general and the appellate prosecutor if they wanted to take over the case — which is his legal obligation — but due to its high-profile nature and the potential backlash to come, no matter what the decision, they turned it down.
“I might say that the responses were less than enthusiastic, as you might expect,” said Toomin in court.
Before the charges on Smollett were dropped, Chicago State Attorney Kim Foxx removed herself from the case and gave it to a top aide, which in June Toomin said wasn’t in her legal right to do so — hence the call for a special prosecutor.