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Court releases hundreds of unredacted documents in Jeffrey Epstein case

A federal court late Wednesday posted nearly 950 pages of documents related to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, including dozens of previously redacted names associated with the infamous case.

It was not immediately clear whether the documents reveal significant new information about the politically connected multimillionaire, who was accused of abusing dozens of teenage girls before he died by suicide in federal custody in 2019. Although some far-right social media posts hyped the unveiling of a directory of Epstein “clients,” in actuality the court posted pages and pages of previously released deposition transcripts and legal briefs, including formerly blocked-out names, many of which were already publicly known.

The document release followed an order two weeks ago by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska to reveal the identities of about 150 people connected to Epstein in a defamation suit against his former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell. Many of the Epstein associates have already either been identified in the media or in court, the judge said of the order, which came in response to a Miami Herald lawsuit. The identities of several minors alleged to be sexual abuse victims would be kept secret, the judge said.

The filings Wednesday night capped a week of frenzied speculation, particularly among right-wing media and Trump allies.

One website predicted former president Bill Clinton would be at the top of a new “Epstein Client List.” The New York Post flagged a “bombshell court records dump.” Social media buzzed with posts by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and political allies such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) warning of a coverup of alleged Epstein conspirators.

By contrast, some attorneys for Epstein’s alleged victims predicted the court documents would contain only a scintilla of serious news, and possibly none at all, because most of the previously redacted names have been tabloid fodder for years. Clinton’s travels two decades ago on Epstein’s private jet, for example, have been widely reported. In a 2019 statement, Clinton he said he knew nothing about Epstein’s “terrible crimes.”

But more than four years after the 66-year-old Epstein hanged himself in federal custody while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, the MAGA movement of former president Donald Trump remains fixated on the notorious financier — even though Epstein and Trump shared overlapping, highflying social circles for years in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.

Clinton, impeached in part for lying about his affair with a White House intern, and his wife, Hillary Clinton, defeated by Trump in the bitter 2016 presidential race, still arouse conservative passions after more than two decades dominating Democratic politics. A widespread belief among Epstein’s alleged victims that his wealth and connections led to a miscarriage of justice reinforces Trump supporters’ hostility toward the legal system as Trump faces four criminal cases while campaigning for a second presidential term.

“This is made-up outrage in an election year,” said Jose Lambiet, a longtime South Florida gossip columnist turned private investigator. “The real outrage is that this case is treated as a political pawn when it should be about underage girls who were harassed and sexually abused.”

Epstein, accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls and young women, pleaded guilty in Florida state court in 2008 to two felony counts and served only 13 months in jail. Intense public scrutiny of the case, led by the Miami Herald, led to Epstein’s arrest in July 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. He pleaded not guilty and died by suicide one month later.

Maxwell is serving a 20-year sentence for trafficking young sexual abuse victims to Epstein. She and Epstein are the only people to have been prosecuted in connection with a sex trafficking ring alleged to include minors from New York to Palm Beach.

The latest court development comes from a 2015 defamation lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre, who said Maxwell recruited her as a teenager to serve as Epstein’s “sex slave.” The case, which was settled in 2017, exposed disturbing details about the operation run by Maxwell to supply teenage girls to Epstein at his private mansions stocked with sex toys.

In the Dec. 18 order, Preska gave the John and Jane Does two weeks to object to their names being disclosed.

“There’s going to be a lot of nervous ppl over Christmas and New Years … who’s on the naughty list?” tweeted Giuffre at the time.

The judge is still weighing requests from two people named in the suit to remain private. More records from the case are expected to be released soon.

The documents posted on Wednesday include references to major figures like Bill Clinton, Trump and Prince Andrew, but did not appear to feature any smoking-gun details about their ties to Epstein.

In a 2016 filing, Maxwell’s attorneys said that FBI and Secret Service records disproved claims that Bill Clinton visited Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean and said that Clinton has not been accused of any sexual misconduct tied to Epstein. Maxwell said in a deposition that the “allegations that Clinton had a meal on Jeffrey’s island is 100 percent false.” She added she was “sure he had a meal on Jeffrey’s plane.”

Trump is mentioned in a 2016 deposition of Johanna Sjoberg, a woman who has also accused Epstein of abuse. Sjoberg said she was on Epstein’s private plane once when it diverted to Atlantic City because of bad weather. She said they went to one of Trump’s casinos, where she and Giuffre, who was then too young to gamble, walked around before returning to the plane, where Epstein mentioned an idea to “call up Trump.” It was not clear from the deposition whether Epstein and Trump had a conversation about the visit.

Asked if she ever massaged Trump, Sjoberg said she did not.

Prince Andrew’s connection to Epstein, and the allegations that contributed to the public downfall of the brother of Britain’s King Charles III, were already widely reported, including Sjoberg’s accusations that Andrew groped her, and the claims of Giuffre, who said she was trafficked to Andrew by Epstein.

Some attorneys for Epstein’s alleged victims were skeptical the unsealed records would contain any major bombshells.

“Nobody who has even casually followed the story will learn a single fact from what is about to be unsealed. Not one,” said attorney Brad Edwards. “The level of disappointment the world is about to get cannot be overstated.”

Attorney Spencer Kuvin said the records might reveal one or two people who knew Epstein and have not been previously identified, but it’s unclear if they will be accused of wrongdoing. He said he expects the list of names to include a wide range of people, from high-profile politicians, executives and socialites who knew Epstein to little-known employees who worked at his multiple estates.

“I don’t think there will be any really big surprises, but the name Epstein has turned into such a nuclear disaster that people in his periphery get smeared,” Kuvin said.

Even Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is making a long-shot bid for president as an independent, was asked recently about whether he traveled on Epstein’s plane. He said on Fox News that he and his family flew on Epstein’s plane twice in 1993, long before “his nefarious issues.”

The relationship between Epstein and Trump has been well-chronicled in the media. For nearly two decades starting in the late 1980s, Epstein and Trump traveled in similar social orbits. They were neighbors in Palm Beach and partied together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. Trump traveled on Epstein’s jet and dined at his mansion in Manhattan.

“Terrific guy,” Trump said of Epstein in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with.”

More recently, Trump has said that he was “not a fan” of Epstein’s and that they had a falling out nearly 20 years ago.

Amid speculation on social media about fresh court records related to Epstein, Trump Jr. tweeted Tuesday evening that Bill Clinton was “all over the release” — even though the unredacted documents had yet to appear publicly on the docket. He also claimed, without providing evidence, that “the government has been hiding & running cover for” alleged Epstein conspirators.

“The American people deserve transparency,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tenn.), while demanding court records that may — or may not — offer new insights into Epstein’s alleged crimes.

These social media posts serve to gin up public interest, Kuvin said, but fail to bring the accountability that Epstein’s alleged victims have been seeking.

“The Jeffrey Epstein case involves all the factors that make for an intriguing story — royalty, money, politics, power and sex,” he said. “And you’ve got two highly polarizing former presidents connected. It’s a story that will never die.”

Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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