Financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was arraigned on sex-trafficking charges on Monday, saw himself as a collector of famous friends. "I invest in people — be it politics or science," he told New York magazine in 2002. "It’s what I do."
But it’s not all he did. Now that Epstein is potentially facing life in prison for allegedly abusing dozens of underage girls as part of his sex-trafficking operation, there’s renewed interest in the people he surrounded himself with. This is especially because when he faced similar charges more than a decade ago, he struck up a shockingly lenient plea deal that promised immunity for his "co-conspirators."
Epstein’s indictment describes how the 66-year-old, who pleaded not guilty, ran what’s been called a "sexual pyramid scheme," through which he ensnared his victims to bring in more girls, at his residences in New York City and Palm Beach, FL, between 2002 and 2005.
The billionaire investor had connections to some of the most powerful people in the world, including former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump. His "little black book," which Gawker obtained and published in 2015, was full of contacts for politicians, celebrities, and wealthy people.
Ahead, the powerful men who have been linked to Epstein.
Former President Bill Clinton
In the early 2000s, Epstein flew former President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and comedian Chris Tucker to Africa so they could participate in a tour of prevention and treatment centers for AIDS. Epstein was a supporter of the Clinton Foundation.
Flight logs obtained by Gawker in 2015 show that Clinton, who has been accused of sexual assault, flew in Epstein’s private plane at least a dozen times in the mid-2000s. In a statement, Clinton’s press secretary Angel Ureña said that Clinton had only taken four flights on Epstein’s plane.
"President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York," he said. Ureña added: "He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to [Epstein’s private island] Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida."
Statement on Jeffrey Epstein. pic.twitter.com/98ha9YYd1l
— Angel Ureña (@angelurena) July 8, 2019
President Donald Trump
Epstein used to frequent President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach property, Mar-a-Lago, and the real estate magnate spoke highly of him. "I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by at least 21 women, 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."
According to Politico, court filings show Trump flew on Epstein’s private plane at least once. The financier also had Trump’s phone numbers in his personal phone directory. The legal team for one of Epstein’s alleged victims has also claimed Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago after being accused of sexually assaulting a young girl at the property. Trump has not confirmed this.
“As I have previously explained, he had no relationship with Mr. Epstein and had no knowledge whatsoever of his conduct,” Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten told Politico at the time. “This has all been reported countless times in the press.” On Tuesday, Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the president has not spoken to Epstein in “years and years and years.”
Attorney Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz, a high-powered attorney and Harvard Law professor, was part of Epstein’s legal team in 2007. He was one of the lawyers who helped broker the lenient plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid federal prison, serve only 13 months in county jail, be granted a work release, and obtain immunity for "any potential co-conspirators" in his crimes. Dershowitz was also named in a civil lawsuit brought forward by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Giuffre claims that Epstein trafficked her to Dershowitz while she was a minor. A second alleged Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, also claims Epstein forced her to have sex with Dershowitz. Dershowitz has denied all the allegations.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew and Epstein were longtime friends, and the Duke of York supported the financier following his release from jail. Prince Andrew was also named in a civil lawsuit brought forward by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, saying Epstein forced her to have sex with him. Buckingham Palace has denied the allegations.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr
U.S. Attorney General William Barr served as counsel for the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which was part of Epstein’s legal team in 2007 and helped him obtain his plea deal. Barr is not recusing himself from the current case against Epstein, but he "has been and will remain recused from any retrospective review of the resolution of the earlier case in Florida," according to CNN reporting.
Attorney Kenneth Starr
Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, was also part of Epstein’s defense team in 2007 and played a role in securing the infamous plea deal. Dershowitz said in 2015 that Starr was brought on board because he "had experience in investigating sex investigations. He had experience as the solicitor general and as a judge. He had all the bases covered."
Filmmaker Woody Allen
Physicist Lawrence Krauss
Krauss, a so-called “celebrity scientist,” directed a Harvard University program that was made possible by Epstein’s $30 million donation. In 2011, he defended Epstein in a Daily Beast article. “If anything, the unfortunate period he suffered has caused him to really think about what he wants to do with his money and his time, and support knowledge,” Krauss said. “Jeffrey has surrounded himself with beautiful women and young women, but they’re not as young as the ones that were claimed. As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.” Krauss, who taught at Arizona State University, would go on to be accused of sexual misconduct in 2018. The school found the allegations to be truthful, while Krauss still denies the claims.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?