As Donald Trump ran for the presidency in 2016, Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile financier, told a mutual acquaintance that he had compromising – or at least embarrassing – photographs of the candidate taken some years earlier. He showed them to this man who, three years later, described them for Cockburn as ‘sort of sexy, sort of suggestive’.
‘Jeffrey had a set of these pictures that had been taken, probably 2003, 2004, of Trump with a variety of the same girls that Jeffrey got in trouble for. They’re vaguely suggestive, but not overtly sexual. I think maybe in one picture a girl was sitting on his lap. There’s a picture in which he has a stain on the front of his pants, a potentially embarrassing stain, and the girls are pointing at it and laughing. That’s what I remember. There were maybe a dozen of these pictures.’
Assuming this account is accurate, the crucial question would be: were any of these girls underage? How old were they? Our informant replied: ‘I don’t know. These are girls who were around Jeffrey at that point in time…I think maybe he identified at least one of them as [one of] the girls the police had interviewed. But having said that, very few of the girls that the police interviewed were actually underage.’ The police had spoken to ‘scores of girls…the overwhelming number of them not being underage.’
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He added, speaking of Trump as much as Epstein: ‘I don’t think necessarily the underage thing is the point here, although they may have been underage. But for all of these guys, including Epstein…they like women who look like…post-adolescent women. If you’re 18 years old, that’s probably the sweet spot. You know, something like that.’
After Epstein was arrested last month, there were stories that he was running a blackmail operation, using photos and videos of public figures with the young women and girls he’s accused of abusing. Would Epstein have tried to blackmail Trump – either as candidate or president – with the pictures described by this mutual acquaintance? ‘Jeffrey was unwilling or uninterested in using them in any way…I prodded Jeffrey at a couple of times to do something with them. And he laughed it off. I mean, he was certainly in no mood to engage Trump in a battle.’
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Cockburn has spoken to another source who says that Trump visited Epstein’s villa in Florida and saw some teenaged women or girls around the pool, topless. Supposedly, two of them later told a story about Trump ogling them and making sleazy comments about their breasts. Their account was given to someone who passed it on to Cockburn’s source. It was confirmed by the mutual acquaintance of Trump and Epstein. ‘Epstein has told me that story.’
Trump has reportedly told a version of this story himself, too. His former adviser Roger Stone writes in his book The Clintons’ War on Women that Trump once described the pool at Epstein’s villa as ‘full of beautiful young girls’. ‘How nice, I thought, he let the neighborhood kids use his pool.’ In 2002, Trump told New York magazine: ‘I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.’ But Stone also writes that a woman who sued Epstein, Virginia Roberts, said she met Trump once at Epstein’s and he was a ‘complete gentleman’. Stone says ‘there is no evidence Trump did anything improper’ and as soon as the Palm Beach police began investigating Epstein, Trump dropped him.
That last part is true, says Cockburn’s informant on the alleged pictures, and he goes on, it may even have been Trump who told the police about Epstein — but for self-interested reasons. The two men had fallen out over who would buy a villa that Trump would later sell to a Russian oligarch for an immense profit. As has been widely reported, Epstein had found out that the villa was for sale at a discount and took Trump to see it for advice on how to move the swimming pool. Trump then snatched the deal out from under his nose, buying the place with money lent by Deutsche Bank. He paid $41m and sold it to the oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, for $96m – a profit of $55m.
Epstein was furious, according to the acquaintance of both men, and threatened to publicly accuse Trump of money laundering for the Russian. ‘It was a big, sort of ugly real estate situation among rich guys. But Trump knew about Jeffrey’s “lifestyle”. He knew about these girls coming to his house all the time for these massages…Trump knew in detailed fashion about Jeffrey’s sexual habits. It is Epstein’s view that Trump is the likely person to have spurred the investigation. He believes that it was Trump who turned him in to the Palm Beach police. There was no ambiguity about this in Epstein’s telling of this story.’
Various media reports over the past month have suggested that Epstein kept a walk-in safe at the villa on his private island – and only he was allowed to enter it. He had another safe at his Manhattan apartment, which was blown open when the FBI raided the place. Several CDs with photos and videos were taken away. Perhaps there are a few of the public figures who knew Epstein wondering now what is on those CDs, or in the walk-in safe. Is President Trump among them?