Ghislaine Maxwell will "never" offer information to federal prosecutors about Prince Andrew as part of a plea deal, according to a close friend of the woman who has been charged in connection with an alleged sex trafficking ring tied to the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Laura Goldman told The Daily Telegraph she would "never sell out" the Duke of York, according to an interview with the publication. She suggested that Ms Maxwell could instead discuss with law enforcement their ties to former president Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, though no allegations have been made against either man.
Ms Maxwell's arrest and charges by federal prosecutors have intensified scrutiny over the royal's relationship to the British socialite and Mr Epstein, who allegedly killed himself in jail while awaiting trial.
"We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk to us," US attorney Audrey Strauss said at a press conference in Manhattan on Thursday. "We would like to have the benefit of his statement,"
Asked whether Andrew intends to submit a statement following the US attorney's remarks, a source close to the Duke's working group told The Independent that "the Duke's team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the [Department of Justice] in the last month, and to date, we have had no response".
In January, prosecutors told The Independent that the office sought an interview with the Duke but he had not offered any cooperation, and that the office was working in close coordination with the FBI to get him to speak with authorities.
Andrew has repeatedly denied the accusations levelled at him, including allegations by Virginia Giuffre, who has claimed she was trafficked by the disgraced late US financier and forced to have sex with his friends – including the British prince – when she was 17 years old. She said the assaults took place in London, New York and Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands.
In March, then-US attorney Geoffrey Berman said that "contrary to Prince Andrew's very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein's co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation".
The office was "considering its options" in pursuing the case.
In June, Andrew's lawyers said they offered to assist the Justice Department three times.
"Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation," attorneys said in a statement. "In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."
Ms Maxwell has been charged with "enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit both of those offences, and perjury in connection with a sworn deposition," prosecutors with the US Attorney's office in New York announced.
The indictment alleges that Ms Maxwell conspired with Epstein in the 1990s to exploit girls as young as 14 by travelling with them "for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex acts".
Ms Maxwell "played a critical role in the grooming and abuse of minor victims" across the US, including New York, Florida and New Mexico, prosecutors allege.
She also is accused of making several false statements in sworn depositions in 2016.
Ms Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison, if convicted.
"The only way she can walk is if she gives someone up, but that definitely won't be Andrew," Ms Goldman told The Telegraph. "She is so appreciative that when she first came to New York, the Duke helped to launch her into high society. She always talks about what a true friend he is. She doesn't see any reason to speak about him to the authorities."
She suggested he was too "naive" to understand why young girls would be invited to Mr Epstein's properties and whose "sense of entitlement" would lead him to believe they were servants.
The Duke has also been named in a federal lawsuit by a woman who claims he was present at Mr Epstein's New York mansion when she was raped by the late billionaire.
Caroline Kaufman, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged offence in December 2010, alleges that she was invited to Epstein's Manhattan home by an associate for a "modelling interview".
Now 26, Ms Kaufman has alleged that she was escorted to a massage room by an "older woman" who she believes to be Ms Maxwell, where she was raped by Epstein, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday in the Southern District of New York.
Ms Kaufman does not claim that the Duke of York took part in the incident, only that he was present in Epstein's Manhattan mansion beforehand.
Prince Andrew's legal and public relations team did not comment to The Independent about Ms Kaufman's lawsuit.