National Politics

As federal investigators probe Jeffrey Epstein’s death, Trump amplifies conspiracy theory

President Donald Trump has joined thousands online in promoting a conspiracy theory on the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, who was found unresponsive in his jail cell Saturday morning.

The unsubstantiated theory points to allegations that Jeffrey Epstein “had information on the Clintons” and as a result, “is now dead.” Conservative comedian Terrence Williams tweeted a video suggesting Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for Epstein’s death and imploring viewers to retweet if they’re “not surprised” by Epstein’s suicide. Trump retweeted the video.

Bill Clinton’s press secretary Angel Ureña tweeted in response that the theory was “ridiculous” and that Trump knows that it’s false. On Tuesday, Trump said he had “no idea” if Bill Clinton had anything to do with Epstein’s death, the Associated Press reported.

Epstein, 66, was found hanging in his cell at 6:30 a.m., when paramedics tried to revive him, federal sources say. He was previously found injured with marks on his neck that appeared to be self-inflicted but was not on suicide watch when he was found Saturday. The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently probing the circumstances of his death, Attorney General William Barr announced.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers who says she was working as a locker room attendant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach when she was asked to become a “masseuse” for Epstein, testified that Epstein once had a dinner for Bill Clinton on his island, Little St. James, off the coast of St. Thomas.

Ureña denies the claim and said that Clinton hasn’t spoken to Epstein in “well over a decade.” He did note, however, that Clinton took four trips on Epstein’s plane to three different continents.

“Did Bill Clinton go to the island? That’s the question,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

Lynne Patton, regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, posted a headline announcing Epstein’s death with the caption “Hillary’d” and hashtag #VinceFosterPartTwo on Instagram.

Former White House staffer Vince Foster’s suicide by gunshot stirred controversy when right-leaning media suggested Clinton had him killed in the wake of the “Travelgate” controversy, where several White House travel office employees were fired. Trump previously told the Washington Post that Foster’s death was “very fishy.”

This is not the first time Trump has propagated political conspiracy theories. The President long held that former President Barack Obama was not an American citizen, and helped spread rumors that Hillary Clinton was suffering from debilitating illness during his 2016 campaign. Also during his campaign, Trump suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

When Barr announced the investigation into Epstein’s apparent suicide, he said that the death “raises serious questions” but made no mention of the theory. Many wonder instead how in the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Manhattan, one of the most secure federal prisons in the nation, Epstein could hang himself, especially after an apparent self-harm had temporarily placed him on suicide watch.

“The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida wrote in a news release.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Local Reporting Makes a Difference

In her year-long investigation of Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims of abuse and revealed the full story behind the sweetheart deal cut by Epstein’s powerhouse legal team.

Since the Herald published ‘Perversion of Justice’ in November 2018, a federal judge ruled the non-prosecution agreement brokered by then South Florida U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta was illegal, Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges in New York state, Acosta resigned as U.S. Secretary of Labor, and Epstein killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell.

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