It's been just over a year since Elon Musk's infamous 'funding secured' tweet, and everybody who followed the New York Times' relentless coverage of the scandal - the paper helped expose the fact that Musk effectively lied to the public and violated a bevy of SEC rules - will remember that legendary NYT business columnist Jim Stewart not only led the paper's coverage, but also scored an interview with Musk where the CEO shared how stressed out and depressed he had become over the company's production difficulties with the Model 3.
But, as it turns out, during the course of his research, Stewart, who, in addition to his role at the NYT, is a regular contributor of CNBC, was invited by Jeffrey Epstein to visit his Manhattan townhouse for an 'on background' interview.
The meeting with Epstein happened a few months before the Miami Herald published its series of exposes that led to the latest round of charges against Epstein.
In a story published in the NYT on Tuesday, Stewart recounted the details of their meeting (it was supposed to be on background, but since Epstein is now deceased, Stewart believes he can now violate that agreement).
Most surprisingly, Stewart described Epstein's affect as almost incredulously carefree. While Stewart wasn't able to glean much information about Musk or Tesla from Epstein (perhaps because, he discerned, Epstein actually knew far less than he was letting on), he listened as Epstein showed off photographs with famous friends (including MbS and...you guessed it...Bill Clinton) and held forth about a range of stunning a lascivious subjects.
Here's a rundown of some of Epstein's most suspicious comments.
Epstein openly professed his love of underage women, and even implied that sex between older men and teenage girls should be legal.
If he was reticent about Tesla, he was more at ease discussing his interest in young women. He said that criminalizing sex with teenage girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was perfectly acceptable. He pointed out that homosexuality had long been considered a crime and was still punishable by death in some parts of the world.
Many prominent Silicon Valley figures have a reputation for being workaholics, but they're actually "hedonistic" drug users who tasked Epstein with arranging sexual encounters (and we can infer what that means).
Mr. Epstein then meandered into a discussion of other prominent names in technology circles. He said people in Silicon Valley had a reputation for being geeky workaholics, but that was far from the truth: They were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs. He said he’d witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex (Mr. Epstein stressed that he never drank or used drugs of any kind).
Epstein showed off a photo of him with MBS. This was well before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Before we left the room he took me to a wall covered with framed photographs. He pointed to a full-length shot of a man in traditional Arab dress. "That’s M.B.S.," he said, referring to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The crown prince had visited him many times, and they spoke often, Mr. Epstein said.
During their conversation, Epstein frequently took breaks to attend to his 'currency trading' (we'd be curious to learn which discount brokerage he preferred).
He led me to a large room at the rear of the house. There was an expansive table with about 20 chairs. Mr. Epstein took a seat at the head, and I sat to his left. He had a computer, a small blackboard and a phone to his right. He said he was doing some foreign-currency trading.
Epstein bragged about how his reputation didn't stop people from attending his parties. He even considered becoming a minister to help himself appear more trustworthy.
He said this was something he’d become used to, even though it didn’t stop people from visiting him, coming to his dinner parties or asking him for money. (That was why, Mr. Epstein told me without any trace of irony, he was considering becoming a minister so that his acquaintances would be confident that their conversations would be kept confidential.)
A few months after their conversation, Epstein asked Stewart if the NYT business writer would be interested in writing his biography (presumably for a hefty fee).
Several months passed. Then early this year Mr. Epstein called to ask if I’d be interested in writing his biography. He sounded almost plaintive. I sensed that what he really wanted was companionship. As his biographer, I’d have no choice but to spend hours listening to his saga. Already leery of any further ties to him, I was relieved I could say that I was already busy with another book.
Stewart passed, but, looking back....
That was the last I heard from him. After his arrest and suicide, I’m left to wonder: What might he have told me?