From left, Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 12, 2000.
Davidoff Studios Photography | Archive Photos | Getty Images
President Donald Trump in a new interview suggested that accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein might have been killed in jail instead of having committed suicide, and defended his well wishes to Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell.
Trump also said, “First of all, I don’t know that,” when he was reminded that Maxwell now faces charges related to alleged sexual abuse of children by the wealthy investor Epstein.
“But I do know that her friend or boyfriend [Epstein] was either killed or committed suicide in jail,” Trump said of the British socialite Maxwell. “She’s now in jail.”
“Yeah, I wish her well. I’d wish you well, I’d wish a lot of people well,” he told Jonathan Swan of Axios in the interview.
“Good luck, let them prove somebody was guilty,” Trump said.
Years ago, Trump had socialized with Epstein and Maxwell, whose other high-profile friends had included former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Epstein, 66, died last August in a jail in Manhattan by what federal officials and the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office have said was a suicide by hanging.
At the time, Epstein was awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges related to the alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005.
Attorney General William Barr has said that Epstein’s death, which occurred weeks after another apparent suicide bid by him in the same high-security federal jail, was the result of a “perfect storm of screw-ups,” but also said he is sure Epstein killed himself.
Barr said he personally reviewed security footage that shows no one entered the area where Epstein was being kept at the time he died.
Two guards at the jail who were supposed to be keeping an eye on Epstein and other inmates on the night of his death have been criminally charged with trying to cover up their failure to do so.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested last month on charges related to her allegedly recruiting and grooming several underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein in the mid-1990s
She also is accused of perjuring herself by lying under oath during a deposition for a civil lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who has claimed that she was recruited by Maxwell to be abused by Epstein while working as a teenager in the spa at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail in a federal jail in Brooklyn, New York.
Swan noted that at a White House news conference on July 21 Trump was asked by a reporter if in Maxwell’s case “you feel that she’s going to turn in powerful men.”
“I just wish her well, frankly,” Trump had answered at the time, going on to say, “I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach.”
When Swan repeated the nature of the allegations against Maxwell, and said, “Why would you wish such a person well?” Trump answered that he did not know what Maxwell is accused of.
“Her boyfriend died in jail and people are still trying to figure out how did it happen. Was it suicide, was he killed?” the president said.
“And I do wish her well. I’m not looking for anything bad for her, I’m not looking for bad for anybody,” Trump said.
“And they took that and made it such, such a big deal,” the president said, referring to reporters who wrote about his comments at the news conference regarding Maxwell.
“But all it is, is, her boyfriend died, he died in jail. Was he killed, was it suicide? I do, I wish her well.”