The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell for five out of six criminal charges was heralded by many as bringing some justice for the girls abused through her actions. Indeed, the Southern District of New York correctly called the underlying conduct as “one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children.” However, that statement only begged the question of why none of the men listed on flights of the “Lolita Express” or on the guest lists of these parties have been prosecuted. That list includes former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as well as Prince Andrew and an assortment of billionaires. It is not clear if these men committed criminal acts but it is also not clear that they have been formally questioned by the FBI.
As I discussed last night, this criminal enterprise was allegedly not only to bring girls and women to Epstein but to his powerful friends. Without pursuing those alleged “johns,” the Maxwell prosecution seems like arresting a getaway driver but letting the bank robbers escape.
The pictures of men on these trips are now well-known. They do not in themselves establish criminal conduct. For example, the pictures of Clinton getting a message from a 22-year-old woman is not illegal and she later described him as a “perfect gentleman.”
However, Clinton has been accused of misleading the public on his number of flights with Epstein. The media has reported at least 26 flights with Epstein. Being a repeated guest with an infamous child molester raises obvious concerns. It is certainly enough to warrant questioning by the FBI.
Then there is Prince Andrew who has been pursued for questioning. Much of the litigation, however, has come from civil litigation. Prince Andrew recently put forward a novel defense in one such case.
Yet, there is a concern that the Justice Department has previously worked to scuttle rather than to pursue the underlying wrongdoing, including a disgraceful plea agreement. I was an early and vocal critic of that deal with Epstein. Despite a strong case for prosecution, Epstein’s lawyers were able to secure a ridiculous deal with prosecutors. He was accused of abusing more than forty minor girls (with many between the ages of 13 and 17). Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Epstein was facing a 53-page indictment that could have resulted in life in prison. However, he got the 13 month deal. Moreover, to my lasting surprise, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta was inexplicably made labor secretary under Trump. He later resigned.
While the FBI aggressively (and correctly) pursued Maxwell, there is no evidence of such a concerted effort to investigate the men who may have been involved in sex trafficking. Given the all-out effort on Ashley Biden’s diary, it would be good to see an equal effort on Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators.
If Epstein allegedly transported women and girls to his island for visits with himself and these men, there is ample reason to interview them. It is not clear if Maxwell has further evidence to offer, but this is the time to produce it. While she is not practically looking at 65 years, she can easily receive a sentence around 15 years even as a first offender. That sentence could be reduced with cooperation credit. What is not clear is how focused the SDNY is on developing cases that focus not just on the “transportation” but the destination of these flights.