Dan K. Webb Is Named Special Prosecutor in Jussie Smollett Case Mr. Webb, a former United States attorney, will consider whether renewed charges against the actor are warranted. Dan K. Webb, a former United States attorney who was a special counsel in the Iran-contra affair, is the special prosecutor in the Smollett case. CreditCreditBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images By Julia Jacobs and Robert Chiarito Aug. 23, 2019Updated 12:28 p.m. ET A judge in Chicago on Friday named a special prosecutor who will investigate how local officials handled the case against Jussie Smollett, who was accused of paying two acquaintances to attack him, making an assault look like a racist and homophobic hate crime. The new special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, a Republican, is a former United States attorney and worked as a special counsel in the Iran-contra affair. The appointment came two months after Judge Michael P. Toomin of Cook County ordered that a lawyer be named to take another look at the case. The judge was charged with finding someone to assess whether there was any misconduct in the way the case was managed and whether there is justification for renewing the prosecution of Mr. Smollett, whose felony charges were dropped in March. Mr. Webb told reporters on Friday that his firm would work on the case pro bono, billing Cook County for out-of-pocket expenses but not legal fees. One of Mr. Webb’s earliest tasks as special prosecutor, he said, would be filing a motion to request a special grand jury to assist him. [A timeline of the Jussie Smollett case.] As the United States attorney in Chicago, Mr. Webb was chief prosecutor in Operation Greylord, the undercover investigation of corrupt judges, police officers, lawyers and other public officials in Chicago. Mr. Webb gained international recognition for prosecuting Adm. John M. Poindexter, a former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, in the Iran-contra affair. In his current role as an executive chairman of the international law firm Winston & Strawn, he is known for defending prominent white-collar clients, including George H. Ryan, the a former Illinois governor, and is considered to be one of the most high-profile lawyers in Chicago. the death of David Koschman. Mr. Koschman died after a fight with the nephew of Richard M. Daley, the former mayor of Chicago. Despite being consistently associated with Republicans, Mr. Webb supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Last year, Mr. Webb declined an offer to join President Trump’s legal team, citing “business conflicts.” With a case this polarizing, the special prosecutor position likely comes with several months of public scrutiny. Judge Toomin said in court that after reaching out to local state’s attorneys from 101 counties in Illinois, the response was “less than enthusiastic.” Judge Toomin then started interviewing private lawyers, which led him to Mr. Webb. At least two state’s attorneys in Illinois have said publicly that they had turned down the position, explaining that they had no interest in draining their own county’s coffers with what could turn into a lengthy and expensive investigation. Judge Toomin said he has known Mr. Webb for more than 50 years, often as an adversary in court when the judge was a public defender and Mr. Webb was a prosecutor. Mr. Webb has a “strong moral compass,” Judge Toomin said. [More about what’s left to investigate in the Smollett case.] In explaining his decision to appoint a special prosecutor, Judge Toomin said that the Cook County state’s attorney, Kim Foxx, who was responsible for prosecuting Mr. Smollett, did not follow the proper procedure in recusing herself. Mr. Toomin said that Ms. Foxx should have asked for a special prosecutor when she separated herself from the case in February; instead, she asked her deputy to take over the prosecution. Ms. Foxx said she recused herself to avoid any perception that she had a conflict of interest after disclosing that she had communicated with representatives of Mr. Smollett’s when he was still considered a victim in the case. Prosecutors abruptly dropped felony charges against Jussie Smollett in March. Now, his case will be re-examined by a special prosecutor. CreditPaul Beaty/Associated Press When a retired judge from Illinois petitioned the court to assign a special prosecutor to get the “whole truth” of what happened in the case, Ms. Foxx and Mr. Smollett resisted such an appointment. Mr. Smollett’s legal team attempted to get the case reassigned to another judge and asked that the court prohibit a special prosecutor from reopening prosecution of Mr. Smollett. Judge Toomin swiftly batted down Mr. Smollett’s request to intervene in the case. Ms. Foxx’s office’s abrupt decision to abandon all felony charges against Mr. Smollett angered some city officials, including Rahm Emanuel, the mayor at the time, and the police superintendent. The city sued Mr. Smollett, demanding that he reimburse them for more than 1,800 overtime hours spent investigating his hate crime report. Mr. Smollett asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, and a federal judge is scheduled consider his request in October. In response to the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Smollett case, the Cook County state's attorney’s office released a statement saying, “We pledge our full cooperation to the special prosecutor appointed today to review this matter.” Mr. Smollett’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Smollett’s legal team maintains that their client did not organize a hate crime in January and that two acquaintances, Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo, attacked him near his apartment building in downtown Chicago, shouted slurs at him and placed a noose around his neck. The brothers, claiming that Mr. Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Smollett’s lawyers. Mr. Smollett, who is best known for playing Jamal Lyon on the Fox drama “Empire,” was written out of the show’s most recent season after the police announced that they believed Mr. Smollett planned the attack himself. In June, Fox’s chief executive, Charlie Collier, confirmed at a Television Critics Association event that Mr. Smollett would not be returning for the show’s sixth and final season, which debuts in September.