A judge in Cook County, Illinois has ordered Google to hand over 12 months of Jussie Smollett's emails, photos, location data and private messages to the special prosecutor conducting an investigation into the actor's 2018 hate crime hoax, in which he two associates say the actor paid them to dress up as white Trump supporters and beat him, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Two sweeping search warrants, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, provide the first public glimpse at the direction of the probe by special prosecutor Dan Webb more than four months into the investigation.
The warrants, filed last month in Circuit Court, sought a trove of documentation from Smollett and his manager’s Google accounts — not just emails but also drafted and deleted messages; any files in their Google Drive cloud storage services; any Google Voice texts, calls and contacts; search and web browsing history; and location data. -Chicago Tribune
Prosecutors sought Smollett's data from November 2018 to November 2019 despite the fact that key events in the controversy happened between late January and late March of 2019. It's possible, according to the Tribune, that authorities may be looking for any incriminating remarks from Smollett or his manager - who the actor claimed overheard his alleged assailants shouting "This is MAGA country."
Also under scrutiny is the sudden dismissal of Smollett's charges following the intervention of former Michelle Obama Chief of Staff Tina Tchen.
Tchen, a Chicago-based attorney, reached out on Feb. 1 to Chicago's top prosecutor Kim Foxx - telling her that the "Empire" actor's family had "concerns" about the investigation. Smollett was considered at the time to be the victim of an assault, however the actor was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in connection with a staged hate crime. In March, a Chicago grand jury slapped Smollett with a 16 count indictment for lying to the police - to which he pleaded not guilty.
The mysterious reversal by Foxx’s office — coming after Foxx herself stepped aside from overseeing the prosecution — sparked a public outcry that ultimately led Judge Michael Toomin to appoint Webb as special prosecutor in late August.
Toomin signed off on the search warrants on Dec. 6, the records show. In doing so, the judge ordered Google and its “representatives, agents and employees” not to disclose his order to turn over the records, saying to do so “may jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation.” -Chicago Tribune
Despite Smollett's accomplices readiness to testify against him in a slam-dunk case, charges against Smollett were dropped in what former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a "whitewash of justice."
It is unknown whether Google has already handed over the data on Smollett and his manager - while Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed with the Times that the department is working with the special prosecutor on "follow-ups" to its initial investigaiton.
Read the rest of the report here.