Saturday, 7 Dec 2019

Jeffrey Epstein: Donald Trump orders probe into death before sex trafficking trial

Epstein was found dead in his cell at 6.30am EST on Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan after apparently hanging himself. It was not clear why he had been taken off the suicide watch, and was in a cell by himself when his body was found. Mr Trump said: “Basically what we’re saying is we want an investigation.

“I want a full investigation, and that’s what I absolutely am demanding.

“That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing. He’s doing a full investigation.”

Mr Trump made the comments after US Attorney General William Barr earlier vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation even after the financier’s death and ordered the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into the matter.

Chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, sent a scathing letter on Monday to the acting director of federal prisons stating that the “competency and rigor of our criminal justice system has been marred”.

A representative for the Bureau of Prisons and acting director Hugh Hurwitz were not immediately available to comment early on Tuesday.

Other US politicians have demanded the government hold responsible people who allegedly helped Epstein engage in sex trafficking.

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Senator Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, on Tuesday called on Barr to void a 2008 agreement that Epstein entered into with federal prosecutors in Florida that has been widely criticised as too lenient.

Under that deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and served 13 months in jail, but was allowed to leave the detention facility regularly for his office.

Some of Epstein’s accusers have called on the federal judge overseeing that case to scrap portions of the agreement, which provided immunity to Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators.

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Epstein, who was once friendly with Mr Trump as well as Democratic former President Bill Clinton, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.

The 66-year-old financier had been on suicide watch, but a source said he was not on watch at the time of his death.

At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Epstein would have faced up to 45 years in prison if he had been convicted.

Some of his accusers and their lawyers have reacted with frustration to the news that the financier will not now have to face them in court.

Accuser Jennifer Araoz said in a statement: “We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people.”

Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer for nearly two dozen other accusers, said it was “not the ending anyone was looking for”.

He added: “The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused.”

Mr Trump, who on Saturday retweeted a conspiracy theory attempting to link the Clintons with Epstein’s death, returned to the subject today, telling reporters he had “no idea” whether the Clintons were somehow involved.

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