Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed that though he had known Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy former hedge fund manager now accused of running a sex trafficking operation involving numerous underage girls, he “wasn’t a fan” of Epstein and has not spoken to him in 15 years, according to a report by MSNBC correspondent Annie Karni, via Twitter. Trump’s statements appear to sharply contradict a widely circulated quote by Trump from 2002, in which he praised Epstein as a “terrific guy.”
In a 2002 New York Magazine profile of Epstein, Trump also referred to Epstein’s sexual predilection for “younger” women and said that he had known Epstein for 15 years — which dates the origin of their relationship to 1987.
“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,” Trump told New York in 2002. “No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
The New York profile of Epstein was published six years before Epstein was originally accused of sex trafficking crimes, but evaded punishment by pleading guilty to two state-level prostitution offenses in Florida, according to a CNN report. The highly controversial “non-prosecution” agreement was engineered by then-United States Attorney Alex Acosta, who now serves as labor secretary in Trump’s cabinet.
On Tuesday, Trump was asked by reporters about his earlier relationship with Epstein, and Trump sought to display its significance, according to Talking Points Memo.
“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,” Trump said at the White House. “I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan.”
A Trump Organization lawyer, Alan Garten, told The Washington Post Monday that Trump has “no relationship” with Epstein. But as Post reporters David Fahrenthold, Beth Reinhard and Kimberly Kindy noted, “there is clear evidence that the two men — both members of the same highflying societies in Manhattan and Palm Beach — socialized together in the past.”
Not only have Trump and Epstein been photographed together on multiple occasions, but a personal Epstein address book leaked to the press in 2009 contained 14 phone numbers for Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, as well as Trump staff members, according to The Post.
Trump distances himself from Jeffrey Epstein: "I wasn't a fan" pic.twitter.com/cYXKAztfmW
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 9, 2019
In 2000, an employee at a building adjacent to Epstein’s $77 million Manhattan townhouse said, “I often see Donald Trump and there are loads of models coming and going, mostly at night. It’s amazing,” according to The New York Times.
But Trump banned Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2007, after Epstein was initially charged with sex trafficking crimes, according to statements by Garten to The Washington Post.