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On Saturday morning, Aug. 10, 2019, Attorney General William Barr was working in his home office when his chief of staff called to say that Jeffrey Epstein had just been found dead in his cell in New York City. Barr was shocked and upset to hear this. His first reaction, as he recounts it in his memoir, was to worry that some people in America might not buy the idea that Jeffrey Epstein had killed himself.
“No one’s going to believe it was a suicide,” Barr fretted to his chief of staff. “There will be conspiracy theories all over the place.” Now, that’s a pretty odd response, if you think about it. At the time, there was no way that Bill Barr could have known for sure how Jeffrey Epstein died. So, you would think as the attorney general, his first concern would be finding out what actually happened, but instead, his first concern was worry that the public might jump to unapproved conclusions about what happened and, in some ways, Bill Barr was right to worry.
Many Americans did not believe that Jeffrey Epstein had killed himself, given the strange circumstances of his death, stranger than even most people understood at the time, it was going to take a sustained public relations campaign to convince Americans that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself, but Bill Barr was willing to make the effort. Two days later, he flew to New Orleans, gave a speech and said this.
BILL BARR: I was appalled and indeed, the whole department was, and frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner. We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that. We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.
So, the country is skeptical and concerned. Bill Barr is skeptical and concerned. We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability, he promised that day, but that turned out to be untrue. Three-and-a-half years after Jeffrey Epstein died, no one has gotten to the bottom of what happened that day, and there has been no accountability for it.
The only people ever punished for the grotesque malfeasance surrounding Epstein’s death were two low-level guards who fell asleep on duty that night. Both pleaded guilty to falsifying government records, but last year, with no real explanation, an Obama-appointed judge dropped all charges against both of them. One of the guards may still work for the federal government. As for getting to the bottom of what happened, despite many promises from many various officials, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has ever issued a report explaining how Jeffrey Epstein died. Not a word.
So, once again, three-and-a-half years after one of the most widely covered deaths of our time, there are still no answers and there is still no accountability. Why is that? Well, many reasons, probably, but one of them is that Washington veteran Bill Barr, the only man in the modern era to serve as attorney general twice declared, the Epstein case closed. Now, at first blush, Barr seems to have good reason for doing that. “By the end of 2019,” Barr writes in his memoir, “I was confident that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide by hanging himself.” Now, why did Bill Barr believe that? Well, the first piece of evidence he offers up is this: “The New York City medical examiner had conducted an autopsy and ruled that Epstein killed himself by hanging.” That’s the first piece of evidence. The second is this. It’s a videotape that “confirmed the medical examiner’s findings.”
“I personally reviewed that video footage,” Barr writes. “It shows conclusively that between the time Epstein was locked in a cell at 7:49 p.m. on the night of Aug. 9 and the time he was discovered the next morning at 6:30, no one entered his tier.” Therefore, Bill Barr explained, we can know for sure that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. In his book, Barr ends this section on Epstein with a self-congratulatory note. “The management changes I made at the time (to the federal prison system) were good ones, and I think the agency is slowly on its way back.”
In other words, everything is fine now. Let’s move on. This was enough for most journalists in Washington. Virtually every subsequent news story about Jeffrey Epstein’s death denounced skeptics of the official story as crazy, who, for whatever reason, were engaged in “baseless conspiracy theories.” What’s amazing in retrospect is that none of these reporters, veterans at The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC News, The New York Times, many others, none of them ever thought to revisit Bill Barr’s assessment of Epstein’s death and measure it against the basic tenets of common sense.
If you did that, you saw that what Bill Barr said about Jeffrey Epstein was transparently absurd and very obviously dishonest. Barr began by claiming that the medical examiner who conducted Epstein’s autopsy ruled his death a suicide, but that is not true. The initial cause of death following the autopsy was not suicide, but “pending,” which is to say unclear. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy could not say how Jeffrey Epstein died. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who was also present that day, came away believing Epstein had been murdered. After reviewing more than a thousand suicides by hanging in New York state, Baden later said he couldn’t find a single neck injury, not one, that matched the injury that Epstein sustained.
Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself, Baden concluded, he was strangled. The physical evidence he saw at the autopsy made that obvious, but New York City’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, who was not present at the autopsy, overruled the judgment of those who were. Days later, on the basis of no new evidence or investigation, Barbara Sampson simply declared Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide. That was the city’s official but totally unsupported conclusion, which Bill Barr and many others promptly repeated. Why did chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson do that? We don’t know. We called Sampson to ask her, but she hung up on us. Then, there’s the question of the videotape, which Barr cited. Both cameras trained on the door of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell did not work that night famously and to this day, no one has explained why they didn’t work. So, the video footage that Bill Barr said he watched didn’t cover Epstein’s cell, just the entrance to the larger cellblock.
No one came in or out of the tier, Barr said. Therefore, Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. So, let’s consider that claim rationally. On the night of Aug. 9, Jeffrey Epstein was being held in the special housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, the most secure part of the city’s federal lockup. It would be physically impossible for a stranger to get in and out of this facility without an electronic pass and without being seen by the countless cameras in place between the street and the locked ninth floor of the building. So, if Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, he was not murdered by an intruder, someone who came into the tier, he was murdered by someone on his own cellblock, obviously.
There were seven other cells on Epstein’s tier and each one housed dangerous criminals. So, if you were looking for a killer, you would figure out who was in those cells, but no one seems to have thought of that or done it. The Bureau of Prisons refused to provide us with a list of the inmates on Epstein’s tier. It’s not clear how many of them were even interviewed by investigators, despite the fact that some of them were transferred out of the facility shortly after Epstein’s death. That’s a baffling oversight. Instead, Attorney General Bill Barr simply assured the country that no one from outside came into Jeffrey Epstein’s tier and declared the case solved and if you think about it, that is a remarkable way to assess a potential crime scene, especially when you consider the source.
Bill Barr was not a civilian or a crime novel aficionado. He was the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. He was the nation’s top cop. His job was to solve crimes and yet, somehow, with all his law enforcement experience, it never seemed to dawn on Bill Barr that if there was a killer, the killer would have come from one of the cells on Epstein’s tier and then further, apparently, no one in the entire FBI suggested this to Bill Barr as they reviewed the case.
Excuse me, Mr. Attorney General, it doesn’t matter what the camera outside the tier shows. What matters is what happened inside the tier. Again, obvious and yet, apparently no one at DOJ ever said that to Bill Barr and no one in the media noticed. It’s all very strange and the story gets much stranger once you start pressing a little bit. We’ve pressed pretty hard for the last few days on this question, not because we have any special affection for Jeffrey Epstein. We’ve pressed because you don’t want to live in a country where it’s possible to murder people in federal lockup, cover up the killings, and then get away with them. That’s scary.
That should not be allowed in this or any other civilized place, but in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, it appears that it was allowed and on one level, you can see why it was. This is one of those crimes that has no natural constituency pushing to solve it. The only people who liked Jeffrey Epstein were his friends, and some of them are clearly happy he’s dead. Here’s Bill Gates, whom records show spent quite a bit of time with Jeffrey Epstein after he became a registered sex offender.
REPORTER: What did you do when you found out about his background?
BILL GATES: Well, you know, I said I regretted having those dinners and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing new on that.
REPORTER: Is there a lesson for you, for anyone else looking at this?
GATES: Well, he’s dead. So, you know, in general, you always have to be careful.
“Well, he’s dead, along with his many secrets about me and the rest of our friends.” Oh, we’re so sorry. So, so sorry. You can imagine that Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew and many, many others feel the same way. No one wants to talk about what happened to Jeffrey Epstein, because privately, a lot of people are happy about what happened to Jeffrey Epstein. This week, we’ve called virtually every person involved in the story surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s death and with very few exceptions, none of them would speak to us. Some of them hung up immediately. Others declined all comment.
One of them, the DOJ case officer supposedly assigned to investigate Epstein’s death, refused even to acknowledge that he worked for the federal government. “I’m not going to confirm or deny that,” said Mr. Lyeson Daniel when we reached him on his cell phone. “Why is that?” We asked him. “I’m not going to confirm or deny that,” he repeated. For his part, former Attorney General Bill Barr also turned down an offer to come on tonight. He did not explain why. One person we did speak to at length is Jeffrey Epstein’s brother Mark, his only living relative. The two were never in business together, but Mark Epstein wound up more financially successful, even than his famous sibling. So, he’s not looking for money from the estate. He is interested in finding out what happened to his brother.
On the basis of those conversations with Mark Epstein, as well as with a criminal defense attorney called David Schoen, who also knew Jeffrey Epstein well and met with him in a cell shortly before he died, here is a list of questions that any honest investigator would want the answers to. First, why do so many public officials persist in claiming that Jeffrey Epstein attempted suicide in prison once before on July 23, 2019? Now, that’s a very convenient claim if you’re trying to convince people that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself, but there’s no evidence that it’s true.
In fact, Jeffrey Epstein himself adamantly denied ever trying to kill himself in prison or out. He denied this to his friends, to his lawyers and to prison psychologists. He said instead that he was injured by another inmate. That’s why he was in the fetal position on the ground. According to David Schoen, who talked to him shortly after that event, Epstein seemed upbeat, happy and confident of his release from jail, but he was very concerned about being hurt by someone in a nearby cell and speaking of nearby cells, were the cells on Epstein’s tier locked for the entire night, the night he was killed? We’ve heard from a source that they were not locked, that inmates were able to move from one cell to another, including into Jeffrey Epstein’s cell. Can the Bureau of Prisons give us clarity on this? Can they prove otherwise? And by the way, who moved Jeffrey Epstein’s body and who gave the order to do that?
Epstein was discovered the morning of Aug. 10 by a part-time prison guard called Michael Thomas, who amazingly was the very same guard who discovered him in the fetal position on the floor after his previous falsely reported suicide attempt, but by the time the EMTs arrived, Epstein’s body had been moved to the prison infirmary. That’s a clear violation of federal policy. Who ordered that? And though Jeffrey Epstein had been dead for at least two hours when the guard found him in his cell, by the time the EMTs arrived, Epstein was clad in a hospital gown. That means that somebody, for some reason, cut away Jeffrey Epstein’s prison uniform and redressed his stiffening corpse in new clothes. Why would anyone do that?
Then to make it even stranger, Jeffrey Epstein’s corpse was intubated, air was blown into his lifeless lungs. It’s not clear why. Now, there was handheld video of all of this happening. That might explain it, but that video has never been released. In fact, authorities will not even acknowledge that it exists, but it does exist. Nor has the EMT’s account of what they saw that day, their mandatory, so-called prehospital care report, ever been released, nor most strikingly of all, are there photographs of Jeffrey Epstein dead in his cell, and that means it’s impossible to know the position of his body when it was found or how he died.
Was Jeffrey Epstein hanging from a bedsheet, as the authorities insist? They say he was strangled by a ligature of his own making. His neck was bloody, but the strip of sheet was not. Or was he killed with the electrical cord from his C-PAP machine for sleep apnea? That’s what Dr. Baden concluded, because that would be consistent with his actual injuries at autopsy. These are very basic questions. These are not conspiracy theories. They’re obvious questions. They are the essential questions, in fact, in any legitimate investigation, but apparently nobody has even tried to answer them.
We dutifully called the Department of Justice today to ask them to explain some of this. They refused on the grounds that there’s “an active investigation in progress,” but that is a lie. There is no investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death. For moving on four years now, there has never been an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death, the death of an American citizen. Now, we can only speculate as to why that is, but all the explanations are bad and ominous. Maybe someone in the new Republican Congress should look into all of this, not because Jeffrey Epstein was an American hero, but because for once it would be nice to see the federal government forced to tell the truth about something.