More than Mueller, it’s Jeffrey Epstein who now haunts Trump!



by Selvam Canagaratna

"Like the bee it’s sting, the promiscuous leave behind them in each encounter something of themselves by which they are made to suffer."
– Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, 1945.

Perhaps the most revealing commentary Donald Trump has offered on Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier, who pleaded not guilty last week to sex trafficking and conspiracy, occurred in late February 2015, onstage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Trump, then flirting with a presidential run, was fielding softballs from Fox News host Sean Hannity when a lightning round of questions turned to a favourite topic: Bill Clinton, wrote Emily Jane Fox in a recent column in Vanity Fair magazine.

"Nice guy," Trump had said, then seemingly veering off topic, added: "Got a lot of problems coming up, in my opinion, with the famous island with Jeffrey Epstein. Lot of problems."

In fact, Epstein was then very much on Trump’s mind, noted Emily, since Donald too had his own history with that ‘registered sex offender’. Over the previous several weeks, the National Enquirer had published a string of stories about Epstein, including a ‘world exclusive’ interview with one of his accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said in court documents that Epstein had forced her to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home.

Emily also disclosed that Virginia had told the tabloid that Epstein paid her to have sex with a prince, one of an expansive retinue of high-flying elites who enjoyed Epstein’s company and took advantage of his private jet.

Eric Lutz, also writing in Vanity Fair magazine on July 10th noted: "Donald Trump now says he’s ‘not a fan’ of Jeffrey Epstein, a convenient way to feel about the disgraced financier in the aftermath of his 2008 conviction on soliciting underage girls for prostitution and his recent indictment on charges of sex trafficking minors. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when Trump could be counted among Epstein’s rich, well-connected friends. And, according to a recent report in the New York Times, the relationship may have been a good deal closer than the President has let on."

Lutz adds that, as per the Times report, Trump had, in 1992, directed Florida businessman George Houraney – who would later accuse Trump of sexually harassing his former girlfriend and business partner, Jill Harth – to organize a members’ only ‘calendar girl’ competition at Mar-a-Lago.

After Houraney had arranged to have some contestants fly in, he had discovered that there would be only two attendees. "At the very first party, I said, ‘Who’s coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.’ It turned out to be only Trump and Epstein, Houraney recalled. "I said, ‘Donald, this is supposed to be a party with VIPs. You’re telling me it’s only you and Epstein?’ The anecdote underscores the friendship between the pair, and suggests that their relationship proceeded in spite of warnings about Epstein’s behaviour. Houraney "pretty much had to ban Jeff from my events," he said. "Trump didn’t care about that."

Wrote Lutz: "Like other powerful Epstein associates, the President has sought to downplay their relationship, telling the press recently that they had a ‘falling out’ about fifteen years ago and haven’t spoken since. But in 2002, Trump spoke differently of his fellow billionaire: ‘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.’ The two were friends and ran in similar social circles, attending the same dinner parties, including one Epstein hosted for Prince Andrew, who has also been accused of sexually abusing minors, though he denies the allegations.

Donald Trump’s current Labour Secretary, Alexander Acosta, has become integral to understanding the Epstein sex abuse scandal, noted Kara Scannell of CNN. It was Acosta’s ‘secret’ decision in 2007 as a US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida to let Epstein avoid federal charges of sex trafficking that has now, finally, cost him his job. What's more, under the new charges, Epstein now faces as much as 45 years in prison if convicted.

This ‘sweetheart deal’ was like no other in that it also covered four women who, victims allege, were involved in Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme. Court filings reveal Epstein was also under investigation for potential witness tampering after one of his private investigators allegedly forced a victim’s father off the road.

Added Scannell: ‟The hard-ball tactics by Epstein and his team of all-star defense lawyers and a politically aware risk-averse prosecutor seemed to collide resulting in this deal that stood out against other sex trafficking cases brought by Acosta’s prosecutors."

Details of Acosta’s personal involvement in striking the secret ‘deal of a lifetime’, was revealed by the Miami Herald last November. According to the Herald, Acosta met privately and negotiated directly with one of Epstein’s lawyers, Jay Lefkowitz, a partner at Kirland & Ellis – the law firm where Acosta was previously a partner.

After months of negotiating, Acosta’s office declined to prosecute Epstein on federal charges; the financier pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state charges of soliciting prostitution, including with a minor, and served 13 months in prison, but was able to work for 12 hours a day, six days a week outside of the prison walls! Also, the original 53-page indictment was completely set aside and Epstein avoided all federal charges and his three dozen victims were not notified of the deal.

Epstein had hired the biggest legal names in Washington, New York and Florida and launched a pressure tactic campaign on the victims, including parking outside their homes in tinted-window black SUVs and trying to obtain their medical records, it is alleged.

According to the Herald, "Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein’s heavy-hitting lawyers – Lefkowitz, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former US Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater Special Prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky."

But as Washington Post columnist David Von Drehle wrote recently, there is one massively important aspect of the plea bargain that has been largely overlooked – Epstein’s agreement not to contest lawsuits brought by his alleged victims.

At first blush, that might seem like a concession on Epstein’s part. In fact, that’s a spectacular deal for him. As a billionaire (or at least something like it), it didn’t hurt Epstein in the least to pay out settlements to his victims. On the other hand, in doing so, he guaranteed those victims’ silence going forward, which is why he went so many years without being prosecuted for other offenses. If even prosecutors didn’t know who the victims were, they couldn’t investigate to see if there were any additional sex crimes that could be brought against him.

So why has Epstein finally been brought down? What finally pierced the veil of secrecy and exposed him to criminal liability? The answer, Von Drehble wrote, is a safe in his Manhattan mansion containing "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of pornographic images of children.

Now, all of a sudden, prosecutors don’t need the victims he paid off into silence to cooperate to learn who they were – they can just examine the contents of the safe and find out for themselves! Moreover, the mere act of them possessing the images in that safe, and of making and transporting them, are all federal crimes in and of themselves.

Epstein thought he had the perfect strategy to keep himself immunized for his crimes. Well, he thought wrong.

And he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.


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