The 2002 quote about Jeffrey Epstein attributed to Donald Trump is hardly shocking. He said, in an interview, that Mr. Epstein was a great guy, adding “It is even said that he [Epstein] likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” The comment always seemed unsavory, especially in light of Trump’s disturbing comments about his daughter Ivanka, but the episode has taken on a darker mien with Epstein’s recent arrest for sex-trafficking.
Trump and Epstein have since had a falling out. I’d like to think it was over the latter’s fetish for young girls and sexual slaves, but I can’t imagine Trump offering anything but a wink and a nod. As for another of Epstein's pals, Bill Clinton, his moral high ground is a valley; in short, we don’t have a lot of principled people in Epstein’s circle.
So let’s admit that what Epstein did to those young women was horrific, monstrous, unspeakable. Let’s also agree that whatever the victims can extract from him in terms of money (of which he possess a very heft amount though less than a billion), or permanent incarceration is fair.
Past that, one of the most sickening aspects of this is the 2007 case in which he was charged with sex-trafficking and ultimately convicted of some lesser crimes for which he served 13 months in jail, though he was allowed out six days a week to work from his office in Palm Beach. He was also registered as a sex offender, but not a sexual predator. He often smiled when he made the distinction, “the difference between murder and stealing a bagel” he once said.
Now the hammer will fall on him. The private jet that took him from Paris to Teterboro last week may have been the final space where he was a free man. But another hammer may fall on Alexander Acosta, the current labor secretary, who was U.S. attorney in Miami in 2007 and cut a non-prosecution deal that scrapped a federal indictment of Epstein. Acosta now claims he had to fight “an army of legal superstars” on the defense team and that the “year-long assault” forced him to him to back away from pressing federal charges against Epstein. I don't completely discount that excuse.
We lost faith in the executive branch in 2017, and the legislative branch after Mitch McConnell’s veritable anti-Obama putsch in 2009. The Supreme Court has become a wing of the evangelical Republicans, the Justice Department is a misnomer, and the Education Secretary hates public schools. But there was still something we held onto—the right to a fair trial. Now white America is beginning to realize what black America has known for centuries: the fairness of a “fair trial” is directly proportionate to the wealth of the parties involved.
Acosta did a poor job in that first trial for whatever reason, and he deserves to lose his current position, but there’s a part of me that says that even he was overwhelmed by a tsunami of wealth and influence. A man like Jeffrey Epstein—with a $77 million mansion in Manhattan—expects to operate by different rules and apparently he does. I’d like to think that this time he won’t, that the preponderance of facts will overcome the slickest of defense teams.
It would be a pleasant summertime diversion to have faith in something.