Below is my column in USA Today on the lingering questions in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. These questions are likely to grow if the court overturns the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell due to what appears to be exceptionally serious allegations of juror misconduct. Maxwell could end up with a second trial while various powerful men appear to have escaped any serious investigation, let alone a trial, on their alleged roles in such abuse.
Here is the column:
The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell last week on five of six felony counts represented the first guilty verdict to come out of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal since his death. The question is whether it will be the last.
Maxwell was rightfully convicted as someone who was an enabler of sexual abuse, a craven figure convicted of enticing minors to travel and the transportation of a minor.
However, these girls were enticed and transported for a purpose and, quite possibly, for people other than Epstein.
The prosecution framed its case in terms of the transportation rather than the destination of the girls – and chose to limit the trial to just four of the victims. The trial offered insights into the bizarre relationship of Epstein and Maxwell, one sustained in part by Maxwell’s eagerness to fulfill Epstein’s demands for a steady stream of young girls.
Taste for human consumption
On one level, Epstein and Maxwell were embodiments of the conspicuous consumption culture we have seen in an array of criminal defendants, from Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign chair Paul Manafort to the late Bernie Madoff.
However, Epstein and Maxwell found each other as soul mates in a mutual taste for human consumption. Where Manafort consumed $15,000 ostrich jackets, Epstein and Maxwell actively harvested children.
For Maxwell, unrestrained, unapologetic consumption was a matter of breeding from a pampered upbringing by her father, publishing tycoon (and fraudulent businessman) Robert Maxwell. For Epstein, it was a taste fueled by sexual and criminal addiction.
The Epstein-Maxwell alliance was forged by a deep corruption on every level, but that corruption was not limited to this despicable duo. Maxwell facilitated flights and travel to produce girls on trips attended by a list of the super elite. And Epstein allegedly used his stable of young girls as an enticement for powerful men.
The travel logs and guest records on Epstein’s trips read like a who’s who of the global elite. That by itself is not strange. The most elite in our society tend to flock together. What was notable is that these high-powered trips included teenage girls along with presidents and princes.
There are only two possibilities that arise from the records. First, that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked victims for only their own enjoyment.
Under this theory, young girls and women were transported to an island or homes with powerful men, but those men were interested only in the pleasure of Epstein’s company. They simply often traveled without their spouses or children.
Second, Epstein used what former President Trump called Epstein’s taste for “beautiful women on the younger side” to draw powerful friends into his circle of influence.
These trips are now largely public record, and the pictures are well known. Bill Clinton getting a massage from a 22-year-old woman in an airport in transit. Prince Andrew with his arm around a teenager in an Epstein home. Names from Donald Trump to Bill Gates have been associated with Epstein or his infamous flights on “The Lolita Express.” Clinton took 26 flights on Epstein’s plane, according to Fox News.
None of these pictures or records proves criminal acts or establishes which of the two scenarios is true. What they do create is an ample basis for investigation and formal questioning by the FBI.
Yet, with the exception of Prince Andrew, there is no public account of a formal investigation into those who were the possible beneficiaries of Epstein’s actions.
The history of the Justice Department’s involvement in the case magnifies these concerns. In 2007, Epstein faced a state investigation that found probable cause for at least four counts of unlawful sex with minors and one count of sexual abuse. He was the subject of a 53-page indictment that could have resulted in life in prison.
That is when the Justice Department struck a breathtaking plea agreement that effectively negated the claims of more than 40 minor girls (many between the ages of 13 and 17). Epstein pleaded guilty to Florida charges of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence.
The agreement violated federal law and the rights of the victims. Nevertheless, former U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta , who signed off on the agreement, was inexplicably made Labor secretary under Trump. He later resigned.
The special treatment did not end there. Epstein was not sent to state prison with other sex offenders. Instead, he was housed at the Palm Beach County Stockade and, after only several months, was allowed to leave on “work release” for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Willingness to investigate
Epstein reportedly had sex with at least one teenage girl, according to a lawsuit. Epstein was allowed to hire the deputies who guarded him on work release. According to reports, he was not locked in at night and a television was installed for his use.
His work? A foundation that he created and then closed after serving his time.
In July 2019, Epstein was arrested again on sex trafficking charges. A month later, he was found dead in a New York jail cell. His death was ruled a suicide.
Many are wondering whether Maxwell will now name names or produce rumored tapes. It is not clear that she has such evidence to offer, but with 65years of potential time on sentencing, she has every reason to cooperate.
Prosecutors already have dozens of names of people who frequented Epstein’s homes and island. Critics of the prosecution say what is lacking isn’t the evidence but the willingness to investigate.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter: @JonathanTurley
31 thoughts on “Maxwell May Get A Second Trial, But What About the Rest of Epstein’s “Significant Others”?”
“Clinton took 26 flights on Epstein’s plane, according to Fox News.”
True, but misleading. Bill Clinton claims that Jeffrey Epstein lent him his plane for 4 trips on Clinton Foundation business: one to Europe, one to Asia, and two to Africa. The 26 flights are all legs on those trips. Jeffrey Epstein was not along on any of them, and Bill Clinton was accompanied by his people, and no one else. No destination had anything to do with Jeffrey Epstein or his properties. Flight logs bear all that out.
There is no indication that Bill Clinton ever rode the Lolita Express to one of Jeffrey Epstein’s properties. Nor is there any indication that any of these famous men ever had any relations with any of the underage women Jeffrey Epstein abused. Are investigations proper? Sure. But until any evidence is found, articles like this are a cheap slur on reputations.
Remember how the Epstein affair got rekindled?
Alex Acosta cut Epstein’s original non-prosecution deal when Acosta was USA in Florida in 2007-8. That deal was conveniently shoved under the carpet until Trump named Acosta as Labor Secretary in 2017, at which Acosta, Epstein and the Lolita Express emerged as yet another opportunity to take out Trump. Can never have too many shots on goal, right? It was huge news at the time, now down the memory hole. Too bad, because its a riveting story.
The one person on the planet that we can be certain never to have done anything untoward on the Lolita Express? Donald Trump. How do we know that? Given the widespread hatred for Trump, if there was any dirt at all, we can be certain that it would have been used it to nail Trump to the wall. In fact, Christopher Steele spun a far juicier tale with far less to work with, albeit with generous financial support with the Clinton campaign. That’s been the M.O. since Trump became a significant political figure. But not a peep about this.
Another interesting point is that they would have us all believe that USA Acosta cut the deal of a lifetime with a billionaire who was close buds with Bill Clinton and other influential elites to bury a sordid sex crimes case on his own, as a rogue attorney, without at least the tacit approval of his superiors in Main Justice. The folks in Washington where shocked, absolutely shocked, when they found out what Acosta was up to. Don’t you just hate it when small things like cutting sweetheart deals with friends of your bosses’ boss fall through the cracks? Too bad about those girls. But hey, sometimes there’s a little collateral damage in the war against fascism.
Then the whole thing kind of backfired, like an exploding cigar or one of those clandestine capers we see in the movies where everything goes sideways in a madcap way. The whole thing may have been the inspiration for the Coen Brothers classic Burn After Reading. Or maybe it was the other way around. Its just so to hard to say.
Acosta was forced to resign, which was useful to smear Trump with innuendo, though it had a short shelf life. Yet the whole sordid affair exploded back in the headlines, along with Bill Clinton (hey everyone, let’s not get so hung up on a little late night office oral sex with a 22-year old intern), Prince Andrew (he who doesn’t sweat because of his old Falklands War injury), Bill Gates (those rumors that Melinda divorced him for hanging out with Epstein are just so cold-hearted), Alan Dershowitz (which never made any sense whatsoever) and a host of other alleged VIP riders on the Lolita Express. Amazingly, Epstein managed to off himself one night in federal custody, the sheer implausibility of which captivated the nation. Meanwhile, our apolitical public servant Merrick Garland decided that it wouldn’t be in the interest of ‘justice’ to prosecute the guards who were responsible for watching Epstein that night. What Garland really meant to say was that prosecuting them wasn’t in the interest of the ‘Department of Justice.’ Sometimes keeping those interests straight can be so confusing, even for a putative supreme court justice!
Then, how many years later, there’s the Ghislaine Maxwell trial and the disclosures about the mysterious recordings that somehow disappeared from Epstein’s house. And our powerful friends are back in the limelight. Yet Trump got away scot free. He was guilty. And if he wasn’t, he should have been. Everyone says so.
OK, so we’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. An opportunity to gain experience for bigger roles in the Biden administration. Just try to do a better job next time, guys!
Pedophilia is socially progressive happens in privacy. #NoJudgment #NoLabels
That said, keep women, and girls, appointed, available, and taxable, the rite of abortion shall not be denied.
demos-cracy is aborted in darkness
As a rule, a woman should never be accurate about her age, but a man should be.
My suspicion is that the exploitation of Kompromat is a weapon deeply embedded throughout our government agencies. I have no doubt that the moment anyone pops up on their radar as a potential political influencer, the process will begin to build a dossier to use as leverage against them, if the need arises. If no skeletons can be found in the closet, traps will be set to create them or they will be created out of thin air. The most recent notorious example of this process is what was done with Trump. His actual skeletons were exposed early, but they were nothing compared with his 2016 opponent. Then we get the fake dossier and the Democrats were off to the races. Traps were laid, the media was exploited for disinformation, Congressional Democrats manufactured articles of impeachment and when all else failed, they exploited a pandemic to flip an election.
The only way to restore the rule of law is to disarm the kompromat.
Well, why professor Turley inserted Trump’s name so many times ? He has a beef with Trump or just unwarranted cheap shots !
According to an opinion piece by Ann Coulter, it came out during the Maxwell trial that the FBI searched Epstein’s New York home, found the tapes, but left them there, unguarded, because their subpoena did not allow the seizure of evidence. Not surprisingly, those tapes ‘disappeared’ before the FBI could seize them. Coulter’s take on this was that the FBI’s actions in leaving the tapes unguarded was deliberate because they wanted them to ‘disappear’ and the elites who might have been identified as having engaged in illegal activities would get away with it. I do not have the same level of knowledge of what happened at the trial that Coulter claims to have to say that her comments are accurate.
Strange that it was Epstein’s own counsel who insisted on removing him from suicide watch. Wonder what their reasoning was? No one will pursue it. Nothing to see here: move on . org
It wasn’t just consumption; it was unfettered hedonism. Pleasure, for pleasure’s sake, without morality, leads to decay. It has rotted entire civilizations from within. Morality tells us when to say no.
In today’s times, morality is often viewed as repressive, patriarchal, or the province of the right. But without morality, you get Epsteins, Madoffs, and the like.
Epstein and Maxwell were peddling influence, using the ancient ploys of women and networking. It does not appear that the women were under physical threat. But at the very least they were groomed and used. With the long list of wealthy and aristocratic names having associated with Epstein, and his “special” island, I wouldn’t doubt that a veritable who’s-who list is quaking in their Brunello Cuccinelli and Sea Island Cotton that they might have had relations with someone underage. I doubt they carded any of these girls they interacted with. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t even know their ages.
“ But without morality, you get Epsteins, Madoffs, and the like.”
Let’s be honest, you can add Trump to that list. He may be an effective leader, but moral he ain’t. Let’s face it.
What you are talking about is a lifestyle. What is moral to you may not be moral in other societies or for other people.
Did Trump have sexual relations with an underaged female? No. Did Trump use force? No.
Did Trump play the field? Yes. That is a matter of lifestyle.
Are you moral? We don’t know for sure, but perhaps your postings should be considered immoral as you are willing to impugn the name of another without offering reasonable proof.
Definition of moral from Merriam Webster: 1a concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior
Yes I think that’s a fair statement
Sit down Karen. Believe what you want about the fake insurrection in light of video after video showing the capital police letting people through doors and gates on 1/6 in addition to the limo vans filled with Antifa thugs dressed like commandos being let out just as the siege began getting violent. Explore who “Ray Epps” is and what the videos taken of him the day before 1/6 might mean to the whole fake narrative being spewed by MSM fools to the useful idiots that soak up fake news.
Epstein was a modern day Hugh Hefner except that he had several Playboy mansions and without the bunny ears, bushy tails and smoking jacket. I’m sure the men trusted Epstein to card the women for them.
Jeff, I never figured you to be an apologist for a pedophile. Hefner was never accused of having sex with a minor. Epstein was credibly accused many times. There is a tremendous difference between a guy using his wealth and influence to get laid and someone who desires and acts on those desires to have sex with a minor. Hence, a crime. And the men there did not want the women to be ” carded” . That was the whole point.
How are you feeling? Recovered?
Of course, I make an exception with underage girls. I would suppose that Epstein was the pedophile, but not his rich friends. But who knows. We do know that Epstein had dozens and dozens of women, but only 4 came forward to testify as minors at the time. The fact that most if not all the women were of age could be the reason the DOJ cannot prosecute the Johns.
Recovering. Thanks for asking. I guess we will never know how many ” friends” were pedophiles. But underage girls do seem to be the ” hook”. I can’t prove anything but I do smell a rat. Outside of Epstein’s link to Wexler, nobody can even figure out where his massive wealth came from .I would add powerful to rich in describing his ” friends”.
I suggest you wait for summer for our dinner. -1 this morning.
I can’t imagine that these rich and highly respected friends of Epstein would throw away everything they’ve earned to sleep with a 17 as opposed to an 18 year old girl. I guess I can’t relate to a pedophile, but I would never be so stupid or engage in such risky behavior (apart from the morality of the situation). I can see why these men would hover around Epstein. He provided a means for these men to meet women in secluded private locations which they would otherwise not be able to do on their own. I AM surprised that these guys would continue to associate with Epstein AFTER his conviction for prostitution.
Couple of key phrases. ” Can’t relate to a pedophile”, ” never be so stupid or engage in such risky behavior”. Me neither. I can only speak for myself. I would never engage in such activities. But I have never gotten away with many ” indiscretions” as I suspect that many of these ” friends ” have numerous times previously. My father gave me some advice when I was very young. He said if there was behavior that appeared to make no sense whatsoever, the answer was money. I was too young I think for the other explanation. SEX.
When a man claims that he didn’t know what he was thinking, he usually was doing just what he was thinking.
Can I steal that phrase from you?
I stole it from someone else, but memory fails me.
It was religion: morality in a universal frame, its relativistic sibling “ethics”, its politically congruent cousin “law”. Epstein et al subscribe to the Pro-Choice religion.
The SDNY US Atty. is in possession of a great deal of evidence not used in this trial. Things like photos, flight logs, and personal notebooks, and discoveries going back to the early 2000s in Florida. The FBI isn’t even calling in the men mentioned for interviews.
What’s worse: setting aside all courage and principles to make it in DC, or a life of half-measures in order to pretend to be brave? Answer- no difference, Professor
Excellent article. Justice department is a political platform. It’s a disgrace to call it justice!
Turley is no different than any other DC creature. He knows exactly what’s going on but wants to stay on the “right” invite lists.
I would be shocked, shocked if the FBI went after Bill or any of the others – with the possible exception of Trump. Investigate them all
The entire Epstein episode has confirmed skeptics fears about the Justice Department.
Justice appears to be a political organization dedicated to political objectives, with only little people (see 1/6 rioters) being pursued.
Dems and the connected have little to fear.
Is it any wonder the little people have such mistrust in the our legal system – especially those entrusted with applying the law impartially? What happened to “no man is above the law”?
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