The arrest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday, and the formal sex trafficking charges brought against him on Monday, have brought about a great deal of soul searching about how a man accused of such terrible things had been so lightly punished in the past.
Many others, on opposite political sides, have pointed out that Epstein has had ties in the past with presidents of both parties, Democratic former President Bill Clinton and Republican current President Donald Trump.
Trump, whose Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has been much-assailed for his part in a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein a decade ago, does not appear to have addressed the charges against Epstein, but now, Clinton has.
The 42nd president issued a statement Monday night distancing himself from Epstein and his crimes.
"President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York," said the statement, which was first reported on Twitter by journalist Yashar Ali. The statement went on to say that the former president took four flights on Epstein's plane in 2002 and 2003, which "included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation." All of those flights included staff and Secret Service detail, he said.
Clinton also said that while he once visited Epstein's apartment in New York, he has never been to Epstein's notorious private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, nor has he visited the billionaire's residences in New Mexico or Florida.A Fox News report in 2016 stated that Clinton, according to flight records it obtained, had taken at least 26 trips on Epstein's private plane - known as the "Lolita Express" - between 2001 and 2003, and that he had "ditched" his Secret Service detail on at least five of those trips. This was reported by the news channel as a greater number of flights than what had previously been reported.
Epstein also has some ties to President Trump. The now-president was quoted in a New York magazine profile of Epstein in 2002, in which he described the future sex offender as a "terrific guy," while noting that he'd known him for 15 years.
"He's a lot of fun to be with," the future president told the magazine of Epstein. "It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life."