President Donald Trump reacted Tuesday to the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein, stating he is “not a fan” of the hedge fund manager after a “falling out” 15 years ago.
“I know him, just like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,” President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office with the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. “People in Palm Beach knew him. He was a fixture in Palm Beach.”
“I had a falling out with him a long time ago,” he added. “I don’t think I’ve spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan. I was not a fan of his. That I can tell you. I was not a fan.”
President Trump’s remarks come one day after the Southern District of New York unveiled sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against Epstein, who federal prosecutors alleged engaged in sexual acts with dozens of underage girls — some as young as 14 years old — at his residences in New York City, Florida, New Mexico, and his private Carribean island. Prosecutors said the incidents occurred between 2002 and 2005.
In 2002, President Trump had kind words for Epstein, calling him a “terrific guy” and “fun to be with.” The years-old quote has been repeatedly circulated by corporate media in an attempt to tie the president to Epstein’s alleged criminal behavior without any evidence.
Buried amid these efforts to link the two men, however, an attorney who represents numerous Epstein accusers has said President Trump assisted authorities in building a civil lawsuit against the well-connected investor.
“The only thing that I can say about President Trump is that he is the only person who, in 2009 when I served a lot of subpoenas on a lot of people, or at least gave notice to some pretty connected people, that I want to talk to them, is the only person who picked up the phone and said, let’s just talk,” Lawyer Bradley Edwards told New York magazine. “I’ll give you as much time as you want. I’ll tell you what you need to know, and was very helpful, in the information that he gave, and gave no indication whatsoever that he was involved in anything untoward whatsoever, but had good information. That checked out and that helped us and we didn’t have to take a deposition of him in 2009.”
Edwards has also said President Trump barred Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago resort “because Epstein sexually assaulted an underage girl at the club,” according to court documents.
President Trump on Tuesday was also asked by reporters for his thoughts on Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta’s plea deal given to Epstein for a sex abuse case in 2008.
“I feel very badly for Secretary Acosta,” the president said.
“I can tell you that for two and a half years he has been just an excellent Secretary of Labor,” he said, adding, “he’s done a fantastic job. Part of it is our economy is so good, our numbers at record lows paid so many good things happening. The fact is he’s been a very good Secretary of Labor.”