Accused Sex Trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s Political Connections: A Guide
On Saturday night, shortly after billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport on charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, Christine Pelosi, a DNC official and the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, tweeted that the arrest would possibly implicate a number of Epstein’s powerful friends on both sides of the political spectrum — except she didn’t quite put it that way. “It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may — whether on Republicans or Democrats,” she wrote on Twitter.
Because Epstein is being charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, with prosecutors alleging that he built a network of girls as young as 14 to satisfy his sexual needs, Pelosi’s phrasing was interpreted as more than a bit flip. But whether they qualify as “faves” or not, it’s certainly true that many prominent political and entertainment figures have deeply entrenched connections to Epstein. By his own admission, Epstein actively cultivated such high-profile friends, telling a New York magazine reporter in 2002, “I invest in people — be it politics or science. It’s what I do.”
To be clear, none of these individuals have faced criminal charges, and they are not implicated in the most recent indictment. Yet on social media, there has been a great deal of speculation as to whether they will be, as well as whether any of them — most notably, current U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, whose approval of a 2007 sweetheart deal landing Epstein a 13-month prison sentence for sex abuse charges prompted the hashtag #AcostaResign — helped the hedge fund manager and philanthropist avoid facing consequences for his alleged crimes for so long.
The fact that the Epstein case is being handled by the public corruption unit “does beg some questions” as to whether anyone involved in the Trump administration or any other “public officials engaged in business dealings with Epstein” will be implicated in the case, says Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District, tells Rolling Stone. (He has no direct association with this case.) At this point, “we just don’t know” whether anyone else will be implicated at any future point.
Here’s a guide to the famous men who have been linked to him, which we will update throughout our coverage of his case.
The most notable person to be associated with Jeffrey Epstein is President Donald Trump, who was photographed with Epstein at Mar-a-Lago in 1997 and again in 2000 with wife Melania and Epstein’s partner, British media mogul heir Ghislaine Maxwell. In fact, in the aforementioned 2002 New York Magazine profile of Epstein, Trump crowed about his friend and touted his fondness for younger women: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Trump said at the time. “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.”
Most recently, the Trump administration drew intense scrutiny when the Miami Herald reported on the allegations against Epstein, identifying nearly 80 women and girls who had accused him of sexual abuse. It also reported on a plea agreement the then-Florida U.S. attorney (now-U.S. labor secretary) Alexander Acosta secretly made with Epstein nearly 11 years ago, when Epstein was hit with prostitution charges. In exchange for pleading guilty to charges of solicitation of a minor in 2007, Epstein was required to serve a paltry 13 months in prison — a sentence he in part served out in the comfort of his cushy Palm Beach office on a work-release agreement he made with Acosta.
Following massive public outrage over the details of the plea agreement, the White House attempted to distance the president from Epstein by denying the two had a social relationship, and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders vowed that the administration would be looking into the details of the arrangement Acosta made with Epstein. But court documents from a civil suit filed by one of Epstein’s accusers, a woman named Virginia Giuffre, allege that Giuffre was recruited by Maxwell to have sex with Epstein and his high-powered friends when she was just 15 and employed as a towel girl at Mar-a-Lago. Bradley Edwards, a legal representative for many of Epstein’s accusers in civil court, has also alleged that Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago after he was accused of sexually assaulting a young girl at a club, though neither Mar-a-Lago nor the Trump Administration have confirmed this. As for Acosta, he still remains employed by the White House.
In addition to Trump, one of the most high-powered political figures linked to Epstein is former President Bill Clinton, who reportedly appeared 26 times on flight manifests for Epstein’s private Boeing 747 between 2001 and 2003. In 2002, according to flight records, Epstein, Clinton, and actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker flew on his private jet on a trip to Africa. In addition to allegedly taking multiple trips on Epstein’s private plane, Clinton was also a recipient of Epstein’s financial largesse, with the hedge fund manager making repeated donations to the Clinton Foundation. In a statement to New York Magazine in 2002, Clinton referred to Epstein as “a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science.” However, in a statement to the magazine this week, he claimed that he was only on the plane four times — all for official Clinton Foundation business — and denied any knowledge of Epstein’s “terrible crimes… which he pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”
The high-powered attorney and former member of O.J. Simpson’s defense team represented Epstein in the 2007 case against him and helped broker his plea agreement — which, notably, provided immunity to all “potential co-conspirators.” Dershowitz was also explicitly named in Giuffre’s civil suit, with the lawsuit alleging that the 80-year-old lawyer “was Epstein’s attorney, close friend, and co-conspirator. Dershowitz was also a participant in sex trafficking, including as one of the men to whom Epstein lent out Plaintiff for sex.” A second alleged Epstein victim, a woman named Sarah Ransome, also named Dershowitz in a civil suit against Epstein and his partner Maxwell, alleging that she was instructed by Maxwell and Epstein to have sex with Dershowitz. Dershowitz has repeatedly and publicly denied the allegations, calling Giuffre and Ransome “liars,” prompting Giuffre to file a defamation lawsuit against him back in April.
Allen was a guest at a party Epstein threw for Prince Andrew in 2010; he also was named in a 2011 Daily Beast story as one of a handful of celebrity friends who stood by Epstein following his sexual abuse conviction, including George Stephanopolous, Katie Couric, and Chelsea Handler. Allen was photographed strolling Madison Avenue with his wife Soon-Yi and Epstein in 2013.
The Duke of York — who recently appeared in a photo with President Trump during the latter’s tour of Buckingham Palace — was a longtime friend of Epstein’s. The two were seen partying together in St. Tropez and Thailand, among other locations, and Andrew was even photographed meeting with Epstein in Central Park shortly after his release from prison. Of Epstein’s famous former cronies, Prince Andrew has arguably been the most directly implicated in the criminal allegations against Epstein. According to Giuffre’s civil suit, she was instructed by Epstein to have three sexual encounters on three separate occasions with Prince Andrew at Epstein’s home in New York, in Maxwell’s London home, and on Epstein’s estate on Little Saint James as part of an “orgy with numerous other under-aged girls.” Buckingham Palace forcefully denied the allegations, telling the Guardian “the allegations made are false and without any foundation.” But the Duke of York’s friendship with Epstein apparently so tarnished his reputation that in 2011, Prince Andrew was removed from his post as a U.K. trade representative to the United States following the negative media reports.
The media mogul and owner and publisher of the U.S. News and World Report partnered with Epstein to spend up to $25 million to fund the first issue of the gossip publication Radar in 2004. According to a 2006 Gawker report, news of the sexual abuse allegations against Epstein led the powerful magnate to rapidly disassociate himself from Epstein and shut down the first incarnation of the publication a mere 14 months after its inception in 2005.
The chairman of Limited Brands, the company that owns lingerie store Victoria’s Secret, Wexner was one of Epstein’s hedge-fund clients, as well as the former owner of the opulent townhouse at 9 East 71st Street (valued at $77 million) which Epstein purchased, and where he is alleged to have committed many of the crimes outlined in the indictment. Epstein also formerly served as a trustee for the charitable Wexner Foundation. In a recent statement to Forbes, a spokesperson for Wexner said, “Mr. Wexner severed ties with Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago.”
As a philanthropist, Epstein aligned himself with many prominent scientists and leading thinkers, including Lawrence Krauss, a prominent theoretical physicist, bestselling author, and so-called “celebrity scientist” who directed a program on the origins of life that Epstein funded. Krauss gave a glowing quote in defense of his benefactor to the Daily Beast following Epstein’s brief incarceration. “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 told the Daily Beast in 2011. “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.” Coincidentally, Krauss himself was put on paid leave by Arizona State University after facing his own sexual misconduct allegations in 2018; an ASU investigation found sufficient evidence that Krauss had violated its sexual harassment policies. Though he denied the claims, he retired shortly thereafter.
In addition to Alan Dershowitz, attorney Kenneth Starr — yes, that Ken Starr — also defended Epstein in 2007 and reportedly played a “significant part” in helping to secure his plea agreement, according to Dershowitz. Also according to Dershowitz, the lawyer who investigated the Monica Lewinsky scandal was recruited to help Epstein because “Starr had experience in investigating sex investigations. He had experience as the solicitor general and as a judge. He had all the bases covered,” he told the Daily Beast in 2015. Along with Dershowitz, Starr was also listed as a recipient of emails from Florida prosecutors discussing withholding the terms of the plea agreement from Epstein’s alleged victims.
Lawrence A. Summers
Former Harvard president and secretary of the treasury Larry Summers boasted a close relationship with Epstein: the two served on multiple foreign relations advisory panels together, and their friendship was detailed at length in a glowing Harvard Crimson profile of Epstein, who had just donated $30 million to the university. Summers and other former Harvard officials who had close ties to Epstein declined to comment for a 2018 follow-up piece on Epstein following the publication of the Miami Herald report.
Attorney General Bill Barr and Epstein go way back: back in the early 1970s, Barr’s father hired Epstein to work as a physics and math teacher at the elite Manhattan private school Dalton, despite the fact that Epstein did not have a college degree. Following Epstein’s arrest, former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi hinted that Barr could “attempt to interfere” with the prosecution of the case, though this would be unlikely given the “obvious” link between the two men. During his confirmation hearings, Barr himself said he would likely recuse himself from any involvement with the Epstein case, as he previously served as counsel for the law firm Kirkland and Ellis, which also represented Epstein in negotiating the terms of his 2007 plea agreement. But in an essay for the Daily Beast, former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah expressed concern that Barr wouldn’t keep his word in this regard: “while it pains me to say this, given Barr’s conduct in the past acting more as a defense attorney for Trump than an overseer of justice, I am concerned that Barr might interfere if he thought that Epstein might implicate Trump, who was friends with Epstein,” she wrote.