Jeffrey Epstein: What are his famous friends saying?

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From left, Donald Trump and now-wife Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at Mar-a-Lago, 12 February 2000Image source, Davidoff Studios Photography/Getty Images
Image caption,
From left, Donald Trump and now-wife Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at Mar-a-Lago 12 February 2000

Jeffrey Epstein, the US financier charged with running a sex ring of underage girls, has long been surrounded by the rich and powerful.

He is said to have actively cultivated these relationships, saying in a 2002 profile, "I invest in people, be it politics or science. It's what I do."

Some remained loyal to the hedge fund manager even after he pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.

But what are Mr Epstein's famous friends saying now?

President Donald Trump

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Image caption,
Jeffrey Epstein, left, with Donald Trump at the current president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 1997

How do they know each other?

In a New York magazine profile of Mr Epstein, Mr Trump - then a New York real estate tycoon - called Mr Epstein a "terrific guy".

"I've known Jeff for 15 years," Mr Trump said to the magazine. "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. No doubt about it - Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Mr Epstein paid two visits to the president's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach in 1997 and 2000, posing for photos with Mr Trump both times. The financier's personal address book, leaked in 2009, contained 14 phone numbers for Mr Trump, Melania Trump and members of his staff, US media report.

According to court filings, one of Mr Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts, first met the money manager while she was working at Mar-a-Lago in the summer of 2000.

What is he saying now?

In recent years, Mr Trump has sought to separate himself from Mr Epstein.

Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten told Politico in 2017 that Mr Trump "had no relationship with Mr. Epstein and had no knowledge whatsoever of his conduct". Mr Garten added this week that Mr Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago since the criminal charges were filed against him.

Media caption,

President Trump distances himself from Jeffrey Epstein - and defends role of Alex Acosta

When asked on Sunday about the charges against Mr Epstein, Mr Trump told reporters "I don't know about it".

Asked again about Mr Epstein on Tuesday, the president said he knew the money manager "like everybody in Palm Beach knew him".

But the president said he had not spoken to Mr Epstein after a falling out between the two around 15 years ago.

"I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you," Mr Trump said, but did not elaborate further.

White House advisor Kellyanne Conway also doubled down on the administration's efforts to distance the president from Mr Epstein, saying Mr Trump had not had any contact with him in "years and years and years".

"Like everyone else", Mr Trump sees the allegations as "completely unconscionable and obviously criminal. Disgusting," she continued.

Mrs Conway also defended Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta, telling reporters to remember who the "perpetrator is here".

Mr Acosta has been criticised for a plea deal he negotiated with Epstein's lawyers in 2007, when he was a federal prosecutor in Miami.

Bill Clinton

Image source, Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Image caption,
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a fundraising event in 2018

How do they know each other?

Mr Trump isn't the only occupant of the Oval Office to have crossed paths with Mr Epstein.

In the early years of his post-presidency, Bill Clinton took four trips on Mr Epstein's private plane with stops in Europe, Africa and Asia, according to Mr Clinton's spokesman, Angel Ureña.

Flight logs obtained by Fox News suggest that Mr Clinton was an even more frequent user of Mr Epstein's jet, taking at least 26 trips on his Boeing 727 - reportedly nicknamed the "Lolita Express".

And in the same 2002 magazine profile quoting Mr Trump, Mr Clinton praised Mr Epstein for his intellect and charitable work.

"Jeffrey is both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of 21st Century science," Mr Clinton said to New York magazine through a spokesman. "I especially appreciated his insights and generosity during the recent trip to Africa to work on democratization, empowering the poor, citizen service, and combating HIV/Aids."

What is he saying now?

Mr Ureña said on Twitter on Monday that the former president "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."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"He's not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St James Island, Epstein's ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida," Mr Ureña added, noting that Mr Clinton was accompanied by Secret Service and other staff members "on every leg of every trip".

Prince Andrew

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Prince Andrew, left, has been criticised for his association with Jeffrey Epstein

How do they know each other?

The Duke of York was a longtime friend of Mr Epstein. According to the Guardian, their relationship dates back to the early 1990s.

The pair were reportedly seen partying together in St Tropez and Thailand, and Prince Andrew was photographed meeting Epstein in New York's Central Park shortly after his release from prison.

Of Epstein's famous associates, Prince Andrew has perhaps been most directly implicated in the criminal allegations.

According to court filings in 2015 obtained by the Guardian, Ms Roberts, one of Epstein's accusers, said she was ordered to give the prince "whatever he required".

Ms Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with the prince on three occasions - in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein - between 1999 and 2002, when she was under-age according to US law.

What is he saying now?

In 2015, following reports of Ms Roberts' accusations, Buckingham Palace issued outright denials of all allegations against Prince Andrew.

The palace, on behalf of the prince, denied "any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts," adding that the accusations were "false and without any foundation".

Media caption,

Prince Andrew: "I would like to reiterate and reaffirm the statements that have been issued on my behalf by the palace"

After two such statements from the palace, Prince Andrew reiterated the denial during a public appearance in Davos, Switzerland in 2015.

Neither Prince Andrew nor Buckingham Palace have issued a statement on the recent charges against Epstein.

Alan Dershowitz

Image source, Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images
Image caption,
Jeffrey Epstein, left, with law professor Alan Dershowitz

How do they know each other?

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who made a name for himself defending high-profile celebrity clients like athlete OJ Simpson, has also been linked to Epstein.

Mr Dershowitz was reportedly identified as participating in Epstein's sex ring by at least two of the women engaged in the 2007 case against Epstein in Florida.

In her 2015 affidavit, Ms Roberts said she had sex on multiple occasions with Mr Dershowitz at the direction of Epstein.

"I had sexual intercourse with Dershowitz at least six times,'' Ms Roberts wrote, the Miami Herald reported. "The first time was when I was about 16, early on in my servitude to Epstein and it continued until I was 19.''

In 2015, Mr Dershowitz dismissed the allegations, calling them "unequivocally and completely false" and sued a Florida court to have his name removed from the legal documents and threatening disbarment action against the woman's lawyers.

A judge ultimately ruled that the affidavit should be removed from the court record, according to the Miami Herald.

What is he saying now?

In light of the recent charges against Epstein, Mr Dershowitz has again denied all allegations against him.

On Twitter, Mr Dershowitz wrote that he was "framed for financial reasons".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"I am pleased that the exculpatory material that I have been trying to get unsealed for years will finally be made public," he said. "I'm totally innocent, as I've consistently asserted since the day I was falsely accused."