Donald Trump’s press secretary has defended the president offering his good wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s girlfriend who has been charged with procuring underage girls for sexual abuse.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said Mr Trump had not meant to wish Ms Maxwell well, but was instead hoping for “justice to be served for victims in this case”.
During one of his coronavirus press briefings, the president had been asked on Tuesday if he thought Ms Maxwell would “turn in powerful men” after she was arrested.
“I don’t know, I haven’t really been following it too much, I just wish her well frankly,” he said in reply.
“I have met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and they lived in Palm Beach, but I wish her well.”
During a later interview with Fox News, Ms McEnany was quizzed on why Mr Trump would offer his good wishes to a woman accused of trafficking girls so they could be sexually abused.
“The other day he was asked about Ghislaine Maxwell, who’s being federally prosecuted for allegedly recruiting, grooming, sexually abusing underage girls,” Fox News anchor Bret Baier said, noting his response had “raised some eyebrows”.
But the press secretary insisted the president, who was well acquainted with both Mr Epstein and Ms Maxwell while a member of the New York elite before entering politics, had in fact meant something completely different from wishing her well.
“What the president was noting is that the last person who was charged in this case ended up dead in a jail cell, and the president wants justice to be served for the victims in this case, and he prefers this to play out in a courtroom,” Ms McEnany said.
When Mr Baier seemed sceptical she added: “This president is the president that banned Jeffrey Epstein from coming to Mar-a-Lago.
“This president was always on top of this, ahead of this, noting this, banning this man from his property long before this case was even being played out in a court of law.”
The Epstein case has already dragged in high profile friends of the disgraced financier — who killed himself in a prison cell while awaiting trial last year — including, most notably, Prince Andrew.
Some have speculated Ms Maxwell’s arrest and prosecution will unveil further connections to the wealthy and powerful in whose circles Epstein moved for decades, despite a conviction in 2008 of procuring an underage girl for prostitution.