Lawyers for Prince Andrew refuted claims that he has been uncooperative with US prosecutors investigating Jeffrey Epstein accomplices, claiming in a Monday statement that the prince has offered to help the US Department of Justice three times this year, according to Reuters.
"Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation," said Andrews's lawyers, Blackfords. "In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered." The lawyers claim the DOJ only requested Andrew's help on January 2nd, and that he has never been a target of their investigation (just like Comey told Trump?).
Federal prosecutors hit back later Monday, with US Attorney Geoffrey Berman saying that Andrew has "unequivocally" refused to be interviewed as part of their investigation into Epstein's sex crimes.
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The Justice Department has made a formal request that the British government hand over Prince Andrew for questioning over his relationship with deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, according to The Sun and confirmed by ABC News.
The request, made on behalf of prosecutors for the Southern District of New York would force the 60-year-old Andrew to help prosecutors investigate Epstein's accomplices - despite his previous empty offer to cooperate. The DOJ filed for "mutual legal assistance" (MLA) directly with Britain's Home Office, bypassing Buckingham Palace.
As The Sun notes, MLA requests are only used in criminal cases under a legal treaty with the UK, which if granted would formally request Andrew's attendance at the London City of Westminster Magistrates' Court for oral or written evidence under oath while DOJ lawyers question him. If he refuses, the Duke could be forced to attend by summons. That said, the evidence session could be held privately "in camera" without the public or press present.
And unlike the Queen Andrew does not enjoy sovereign immunity from prosecution. He could, however, "plead the Fifth" to avoid self-incrimination according to the report.
Last month former federal prosecutor Evan T Barr told Law.com "While the Prince would retain the right to decline to testify under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the impact on his already diminished reputation would be considerable and an adverse inference could be drawn against him in the related civil litigations, leading to a possible default judgment."
Until now, it was thought that Andrew would at most have to answer to Epstein's victims in US civil courts - not the US government.
Accuser attorney Lisa Bloom said Andrew had been an "enabler" of Epstein's crimes. He has been accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre in 2001, when she was 17 - however the Prince has claimed in an interview that he was at a Pizza restaurant in Woking during one of the alleged encounters.
Alleged victim Virgina Roberts Giuffre says she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew in London in 2001.
She described Andrew as “sweating profusely” at Tramp nightclub before having sex at Ghislaine’s Mayfair flat.
Andrew later told Newsnight a “peculiar medical condition” meant he did not sweat.
And he insisted he did not go clubbing, claiming he remembered because he had been at Woking Pizza Express earlier that day. -The Sun
Was this the night he Andrew claims he was indulging in Pizza?
According to The Sun, the request - which has yet to be addressed by British officials - is likely to cause a diplomatic row with the US.
"It’s a huge statement of intent from the US and it moves Andrew into the realms of a criminal investigation," said one source, adding "It’s also frankly a diplomatic nightmare."
Andrew admitted to being friends with Epstein since 1999 following an introduction through socialite and Epstein's so-called 'madam' Ghislaine Maxwell. Epstein and Andrew got together on at least ten occasions - with the Duke staying at the pedophile's New York mansion, his Palm Beach home and his private 'pedo' island in the US Virgin Islands.