A Cook County judge has ordered Google to turn over Jussie Smollett’s emails, photos, location data and private messages for an entire year as part of the special prosecutor’s investigation into the purported attack on the actor.
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.
Investigators sought a full year’s data — from November 2018 to November 2019 — even though the key events in the controversy took place between late January and late March 2019. Authorities could be looking for any incriminating remarks from Smollett or his manager, especially in the months after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office abruptly dismissed disorderly conduct charges against the then-“Empire” actor just weeks after his indictment. Smollett, who is African American and openly gay, has declared the dismissal a vindication of his claims that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
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.”
It was unclear from the file if Google has handed over the data on Smollett and his manager. A Google spokesman said he could not comment on specific requests for records from law enforcement.
Toomin gave Webb a broad mandate to investigate all aspects of the case — not only its initial handling by Foxx’s office but also whether to criminally charge Smollett again.
The search warrants make clear that Chicago police are assisting in Webb’s investigation.