A new batch of unsealed documents holds new puzzles for those who want to believe.
Unsealed by a federal court in New York: The first two tranches of documents pertaining to Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against the now deceased financier and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s former lover and accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell.
More documents are expected to be unsealed in the near future, but the first tranches released Wednesday and Thursday, about 60 of an expected 250, offered a treasure trove for those who have asked the essential questions surrounding Epstein’s mysterious death for the last four and a half years: What kind of blackmail scheme was the late Epstein running on his island and other properties? Was Epstein and his inner circle connected to intelligence agencies (and, if so, which ones)? Who was Epstein’s clientele? Did Epstein actually kill himself?
Readers were left with more questions than answers.
The hundreds of pages of documents revealed more than 170 different names of individuals associated with the lawsuit: victims, accomplices, associates, and clients. In December 2023, Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York ruled that the first tranche of documents were to be released on January 1, 2024; however, that timeline was briefly delayed for individuals, mainly Epstein’s victims, to petition to have their identities protected. Two individuals managed to keep their identities protected as they battle in court to maintain their anonymity in the Epstein affair.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were among those named in the documents.
In the tranche of documents released Wednesday, Giuffre testified that she never saw Trump on Epstein’s island, at other Epstein properties, or ever in Epstein’s presence. Furthermore, Giuffre testified that Trump never flirted with her, which conflicts with a previous report that claimed Trump flirted with Giuffre. Giuffre also testified that she was unaware of Trump attempting or performing any sexual acts on her or other girls victimized by Epstein. Trump went unmentioned in the tranche released Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Epstein accuser Johanna Sjoberg testified in a 2016 deposition that Epstein once told her, “Clinton likes them young, referring to girls.” What’s more, Maxwell testified in 2019 that she flew on “Jeffrey Epstein’s planes with President Clinton,” a claim that is backed up by testimony of Epstein’s former pilot Dave Rogers and the planes’ previously released flight logs. Clinton was also mentioned in the second tranche of documents. In an unsealed email from Giuffre sent in 2011, Giuffre alleged Clinton sought to intimidate Vanity Fair into not publishing stories about Epstein’s sex trafficking. The email, sent to reporter Sharon Churcher of the U.K. tabloid Mail on Sunday, claimed that she feared retribution for going public with her allegations against Epstein, “considering that B. Clinton walked into VF and threatened them not to write sex-trafficing [sic] articles about his good friend J.E.” Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair at the time, told CNN that the alleged Clinton threat “categorically did not happen.”
Another person named in the documents was Doug Band, a former aide for Bill Clinton, who had said in an interview that he had tried to keep Clinton from meeting with Epstein but that the former president continued to associate with him.
Subscribe Today Get daily emails in your inbox Email Address:
Other names included in the list were previously known, like Prince Andrew, who has faced heinous accusations from alleged trafficking victims, and French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for alleged sexual harassment and rape of minors over 15 years old.
One of the more bizarre episodes recorded in the documents released Wednesday involved the late physicist Stephen Hawking. In a typo-ridden email sent January 2015, Epstein told Maxwell he was willing to pay a reward to friends and acquaintances of Giuffre who could testify that allegations Hawking participated in an underage orgy were false. The email was sent shortly after an article was published claiming Hawking visited Epstein’s private island, but did not include any claims about Hawking participating in sexual acts with minors.
The two questions that will become thematic as more documents are unsealed: Will the justice system and media have any appetite be for holding the rich, the powerful, the few accountable? If they don’t, how will we manage to do so?