Now that Jeffrey Epstein is dead and gone, the conspiracy theorists have come out of the woodwork. That’s to be expected, but the president of the United States should not be among them.
Unfortunately, he is. It’s a shame — though he is clearly unfamiliar with the concept — that President Trump has used the suicide of the financier, with whom he was once friends, to attack his enduring nemeses — Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Worse, he’s looking to mine political capital by exploiting the unending pain that Epstein — a serial predator awaiting trial in New York on sex-trafficking charges — caused scores of girls and young women.
Hours after Epstein’s death, conservative actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams tweeted:
“Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen #JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! RT if you’re not Surprised #EpsteinSuicide #ClintonBodyCount #ClintonCrimeFamily.”
Then, just as Williams asked, the president irresponsibly retweeted the unfounded comment to his 63 million followers. We know the president lies. We know he doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant to his base. But his perpetuation of this outrageous Twitter bleat still is alarming.
Epstein’s death was the perfect time for a president to have expressed empathy for the victims. If he had, of course, Trump would have opened himself up to accusations of hypocrisy given the sexual-assault allegations several women have made against him.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tried to explain away the president’s retweet on “Fox News Sunday,” saying he “just wants everything to be investigated.”
As should we all. However, the president is undercutting the investigation that his own Justice Department announced over the weekend.
Since Epstein’s death, we have learned that he was not still on a suicide watch, under which he was placed after an apparent attempt to kill himself last month. Once he was removed from suicide watch, he should have had a cellmate, but didn’t.
Also, prison guards at the Manhattan jail were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes on the Friday when he died, but instead didn’t check on him for hours, according to the New York Times.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday vowed to get to the bottom of how Epstein’s death occurred. “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning,” he said.
Barr sent a welcome message to Epstein’s victims. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” he said.
We should wait for answers on how Epstein’s life ended. The results of an autopsy by New York City’s chief medical examiner should also shed light on how he died.
Still, an onslaught of conspiracy theories was born after Epstein died, and the fantasies are still alive and flourishing on social media. The president, however, should refrain from jumping into the fray.