In the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's Saturday morning suicide while the wealthy financier was being held on human-trafficking charges in a Manhattan-based federal facility, reaction from a number of politicians was immediate and blunt.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who chairs the Senate Judiciary oversight subcommittee, expressed his outrage over the conditions that led to the successful suicide attempt in a letter to Attorney General William Barr, in which he told Barr that "heads must roll."
"The Department of Justice failed, and today Jeffrey Epstein's co-conspirators think they might have just gotten one last sweetheart deal," Sasse wrote in the letter, referencing a deal Epstein received in 2008 that helped him avoid federal sex-trafficking charges.
"Given Epstein's previous attempted suicide, he should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance."According to The Hill, there have been varying reports as to whether or not Epstein was removed from suicide watch. He was put there in late July after he was found unconscious in his cell with marks around his neck after an alleged failed suicide attempt.
Sasse demanded to know what Epstein's suicide watch status was before his death on Saturday. He asked Barr if there would be an investigation into the Bureau of Prison's "mismanagement of the incarceration of Epstein."
"Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn't be allowed to die with him," Sasse wrote.
Barr responded to the shocking news of Epstein's death, saying he was "appalled" and that the death raised "serious questions." The attorney general also said he consulted with the Inspector General, who would be launching an investigation into the death.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will also be launching an investigation, according to CNBC. Even though investigating suicides at federal facilities is not something the FBI typically undertakes, they made an exception for the Epstein incident due to the gravity of the case.Politicians on both sides of the political aisle have reacted to the news of Epstein's death, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She shared a Twitter post about the need for answers surrounding the events that led to the suicide.
According to Politico, Rep. Lois Frankel demanded that the House Oversight Committee launch an investigation into the 2008 deal that Epstein received allowed him to avoid federal sex trafficking charges that would have likely resulted in serious prison time.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, appeared to support the DOJ's investigation into Epstein's death. He sent a clear warning to those who may have been involved with Epstein's alleged wrongdoings that they will be brought to justice.