WASHINGTON — Speaking from the White House briefing room, President Trump weighed in on the arrest of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, saying, “I just wish her well.”
Maxwell, the daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, has been charged with helping financier Jeffrey Epstein in an elaborate international scheme to recruit teenage girls for sexual liaisons with older men. Trump acknowledged knowing the pair but said he hasn’t been monitoring the saga and doesn’t have an opinion on whether she might implicate other powerful men.
“I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach, but I wish her well whatever it is,” Trump said.
The question came during a briefing and press conference called to discuss the administration’s coronavirus response, at which Trump, who had been downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic, acknowledged that the situation would probably get worse, but nevertheless predicted that the virus ultimately “will disappear.”
The briefing was the first one since April. The president had announced he would resume the regular pressers on Monday.
Maxwell was arrested earlier this month on multiple federal charges, including transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity and engaging in a conspiracy to entice minors to travel for criminal sexual acts. Her arrest came almost exactly one year after Epstein was arrested in conjunction with federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein subsequently was found dead in his jail cell on August 10, 2019.
Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide, but it has since been the subject of intense speculation driven by his powerful connections, including the many high-profile names in his infamous “black book.” One of the most famous men in Epstein’s circle was Trump himself. The pair socialized regularly for years before having a falling-out in the early 2000s. Trump and his wife, Melania, were photographed with Epstein and Maxwell on numerous occasions. Associates have said Trump and Epstein split over a real estate deal.
Trump has scarcely discussed their relationship beyond saying, “I was not a fan of his” shortly after Epstein’s arrest.
Maxwell, who was at times Epstein’s girlfriend, was one of his closest associates and has been accused by multiple alleged Epstein victims of grooming underage girls to be with him and providing them to some of his well-heeled friends. Since Maxwell’s arrest, questions have swirled around whether she might link other powerful men to Epstein’s sex trafficking.
At the White House briefing, Trump was specifically asked about two men whose names have been linked to Epstein — former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, has accused Maxwell and the financier of forcing her to have sex with the royal. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations. Federal prosecutors investigating Epstein have sought to speak with Andrew about the case.
“I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew, just don’t know,” Trump said. “I’m not aware of it.”
Trump didn’t respond to the mention of Clinton, who traveled on Epstein’s private jet and met with him. Clinton has denied having a close relationship with Epstein.
Clinton’s ties to Epstein led to an awkward moment for Trump earlier this month. On July 2, shortly after Maxwell was arrested, the president’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted a photo showing the socialite at the wedding of Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea. Eric’s post led to a flood of messages showing pictures of Trump with Maxwell and Epstein. Eric subsequently deleted his tweet.
Fox News later ran a photograph of Epstein and Maxwell with Melania Knauss, at the time Trump’s fiancée — cropping Trump himself out of the photo. The network said the editing had been done “mistakenly.”
Cover thumbnail photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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