Jeffrey Epstein’s Arrest Could Bring Down Vast Network of Rich and Powerful
With a new case against billionaire socialite Jeffrey Epstein, a who’s who of politicians, celebrities, intellectuals, royals and more could come tumbling down in the investigation into Epstein’s child prostitution ring.
Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested over the weekend by federal authorities on child sex trafficking charges, drawing attention to his numerous ties with powerful public figures including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew, and others.
“Anyone who has contact with underage girls at Mr. Epstein’s residence or parties should be worried about possibly being implicated in Mr. Epstein’s alleged criminal activities involving so many young, vulnerable minors,” attorney Gloria Allred told the Washington Post.
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty, faces up to 45 years in prison. The FBI used a crowbar to execute a search warrant on the high-profile financier’s Manhattan townhouse on Saturday, finding a “vast trove of lewd photographs of young-looking women or girls.”
According to the Daily Beast, the search warrant “suggests either that they had probable cause to believe there was more recent conduct that occurred there and/or that evidence from his past crimes was likely to be found there this many years later. That search could yield important new evidence.”
Epstein’s 2008 Sweetheart Deal
Epstein has been a registered sex offender since pleading guilty to soliciting an “underaged prostitute” (the legal euphemism is misleading given the fact that a child cannot be a prostitute) in 2008, in part of a plea deal widely considered to be a grotesque miscarriage of justice.
At the time, Epstein was facing sexual abuse accusations from at least 40 teenage girls. He was determined by the FBI to have conspired to persuade minors into prostitution and transport them across state lines for illegal sexual conduct – charges that could have warranted a life sentence and deeper investigation into Epstein’s network of enablers and accomplices.
Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was given only 13 months in a private room in the Palm Beach County jail and “work release privileges” that allowed him to leave the jail six days a week, 12 hours a day, to work in a comfortable office. According to the Miami Herald, sheriff department rules clearly state that sex offenders are not qualified for work release.
Current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who was the top Miami federal prosecutor charged with the case, is facing calls to resign for his role in crafting the disturbingly lenient deal with Epstein’s lawyers.
It will probably never be known how many girls were raped and abused in Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring, but the Miami Herald identified nearly 80 victims, most of whom were between the ages of 13 and 16 and listed as “Jane Doe” in court documents to protect their identities.
“We had victims who didn’t know each other, never met each other and they all basically independently told the same story,” said retired Palm Beach police chief Michael Reiter, who told the Miami Herald the evidence supporting the girls’ stories was “overwhelming.”
Julie K. Brown, the journalist behind the Miami Herald investigation into the 2008 plea deal, notes that most of the victims came from damaged families and were particularly vulnerable to threats and financial extortion. “Many of the girls were one step away from homelessness,” wrote Brown.
“The conspiracy between the government and Epstein was really ‘let’s figure out a way to make the whole thing go away as quietly as possible,'” said attorney Brad Edwards, who represented several of the girls in the case. “In never consulting with the victims and keeping it secret, it showed that someone with money can buy his way out of anything.”
According to the Miami Herald, the abnormal non-prosecution agreement between Acosta and Epstein’s defense attorney Jay Lefkowitz was forged privately during a meeting of the two lawyers in a West Palm Beach hotel 70 miles from Miami. Internal emails show the plea deal was made secretly to prevent the victims and press from objecting and derailing it.
In February, a U.S. district judge ruled that the deal violated the Crime Victims’ Act by not informing victims about its content or giving them the opportunity to testify against it.
Epstein’s Ties to Current Trump Administration
President Trump defended Acosta on Tuesday, while assuring that his administration would be “looking into” allegations of illegal conduct by the Labor Secretary in negotiating the plea deal without informing victims.
President Trump has recently tried to distance himself from Epstein, but there is significant evidence the two were socially connected until at least the early 2000s. The high profile financier was a frequent visitor to Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club for years and Trump was present at many of Epstein’s social events in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it- Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Trump was sued in 2016 by an anonymous woman who said he raped her at one of Epstein’s orgies in 1994 when she was just 13. The case, which journalists noted was markedly strange, was dropped after the accuser allegedly received death threats.
Attorney General William Barr will not be recusing himself from the new case against Epstein despite their past connections. Barr formerly worked at Kirkland and Ellis, a prominent law firm that has represented Epstein, and Barr’s father hired Epstein to work at an elite Manhattan private school in the 1970s, even though he did not have a degree.
Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah wrote she was concerned Barr could intervene in the case “given Barr’s conduct in the past acting more as a defense attorney for Trump than an overseer of justice.”
Numerous public officials have called for Acosta to resign in light of the allegations.
“As U.S. Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice,” Pelosi tweeted late Monday. “This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet.”
The speaker’s daughter, Christine Pelosi, also commented on the case, tweeting: “This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice. It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may – whether on Republicans or Democrats.”
Power and Influence Aboard the Lolita Express
Not only did Epstein evade federal charges in 2008 and enjoy a jet-setting lifestyle without oversight during the decade since (where he could have continued his predatory behavior), but his plea deal contained strange language immunizing potential accomplices from prosecution.
With an expansive network of rich and powerful friends, as well as victim accounts alleging that Epstein sent girls out to service his connections, it is possible that accomplices who avoided scrutiny in 2008 will finally be brought to justice.
On Monday, federal prosecutors advised anyone with knowledge of Epstein’s behavior to come forward “rather than making the DOJ come to you,” as stated by former federal prosecutor Jacob Frenkel. Epstein hosted numerous celebrities and politicians at his lavish parties, as well as his private jet, which has been nicknamed “the Lolita-express.” In 2015, Gawker published Epstein’s “little black book,” which logged the names of high profile visitors. As stated by Bloomberg:
“The names include well known performers, including Ralph Fiennes, Alec Baldwin, David Blaine, Jimmy Buffett and Courtney Love; media figures including Charlie Rose, Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters; former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, former British prime minister Tony Blair, industrialist David Koch and the late Salomon Brothers chief executive officer John Gutfreund and his wife, Susan.”
One of the most concerning names is former President Bill Clinton, who claims he cut ties with Epstein years ago and only flew on his plane four times. However, flight logs show Clinton registered on 26 international flights and 1 domestic flight between Miami and New York.
“Many of those times Clinton had his Secret Service with him and many times he did not,” Journalist Conchita Sarnoff told Fox News. “Almost every time that Clinton’s name is on the pilot logs there are underage girls there are initials and there are names of many many girls on that private plane.”
When asked by her interviewer if Bill Clinton lied about his flights on Epstein’s private jet, Sarnoff replied: “I’m saying, sadly, that he is not telling the truth.”
“It’s called the ‘Lolita express’ for a reason,” Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, told the Miami Herald. “That was a vessel for him to be able abuse girls and get away with it without anybody being alarmed.”
Giuffre was a 15-year-old spa assistant at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago country club in Palm Beach when she was allegedly recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell, one of Epstein’s “fixers” who helped him find and train new girls, to serve as a sex slave in 1999.
“There were times when I was physically abused to the point that I remember fearfully thinking that I didn’t know whether I was going to survive,” Giuffre said.
Giuffre says she was instructed to recruit new girls for Epstein, a detail shared by multiple other accusers, and was “required” to have sexual relations with numerous members of Epstein’s high profile network.
“Based on my knowledge of Epstein and his organization, as well as discussions with the FBI, it is my belief that federal prosecutors likely possess videotapes and photographic images of me as an underage girl having sex with Epstein and some of his powerful friends,” Giuffre stated.
Giuffre’s court filing said she was forced to have sex with “a member of the British Royal Family, Prince Andrew,” which Buckingham Palace denies (there is a photo of the two together with Maxwell from 2001). Maxwell reportedly introduced the Prince to Epstein in the 1990s, with flight logs indicating the two frequently partied together in the following years. Most controversially is a photo of Prince Andrew visiting Epstein in New York in 2011, after most of his celebrity friends had abandoned him, which the Palace has never given a public explanation for.
Notably, Giuffre also names high profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz as one of the men Epstein forced her to have sex with. Dershowitz was also named by another woman, Sarah Ransome, in a lawsuit against Epstein and Maxwell alleging they pressured her to have sex with the attorney. Dershowitz has adamantly denied the claims and called the women “liars,” leading Giuffre to file a defamation lawsuit against him in April.
Dershowitz, who served as a criminal defense attorney for Epstein, helped negotiate the plea deal and its immunization of “co-conspirators” from prosecution. The famous lawyer, who in late 2018 said he was still advising Epstein, has also sought to block the press from access to criminal proceedings.
“Press access to criminal proceedings is a core First Amendment right. My first Supreme Court argument established that: Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia 448 U.S.555 (1980). Any civil libertarian should know that,” wrote Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe in response to Dershowitz’ move.
The lack of transparency regarding a serial child rapist with alarming ties to the global elite has ignited scrutiny into earlier legal decisions.
“Unsealed documents show Manhattan DA Cy Vance knew Jeffrey Epstein should have been designated a Level 3 Sex Offender (the most serious classification under NY law) but instead argued he should be designated Level 1 (the least serious),” tweeted New York City Public Defender Rebecca J. Kavanagh. “The question is why.”
The Blackmail Tapes
Giuffre says Epstein kept records of her sexual relations with powerful figures in order to blackmail them if necessary.
“CDs in Epstein’s safe labeled: “Young [Name] + [Name]” That looks an awful lot like they found the blackmail tapes,” tweeted the Intercept’s Ryan Grim, responding to new reports of the FBI’s findings in Epstein’s Manhattan residence.
In a disturbing development, Grim published an article with the Intercept on Tuesday showing Epstein ordered a 53-pound shredder on July 15, 2008, two weeks after pleading guilty to the plea deal. Epstein later ordered a 191-pound tile and carpet extractor on March 11, 2019, weeks after a federal judge determined that Acosta’s office had violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by striking the plea deal without notifying victims.
“Jeffrey Epstein shipped a shredder from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his Palm Beach home in July 2008, shortly after reaching a non-prosecution agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, maritime records show,” wrote Grim. “Then, in March of this year, shortly after a Florida federal judge invalidated that agreement, Epstein shipped a tile and carpet extractor from the Virgin Islands to his Manhattan townhouse, the records show.”
Classified documents are expected to be released in the coming weeks, as well as deeper inquiry into Epstein’s child sex trafficking network and the source of his mysterious wealth.