WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he wants a “full investigation” into the circumstances surrounding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death at a federal detention facility in New York City while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS
“Basically what we’re saying is we want an investigation. I want a full investigation, and that’s what I absolutely am demanding. That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing. He’s doing a full investigation,” Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.
Trump made the comments a day after U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation even after the wealthy and well-connected money manager’s death. Barr has ordered the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into the matter.
Epstein, who once counted Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.
Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning, having apparently hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan.
The 66-year-old financier had been on suicide watch, but a source said he was not on watch at the time of his death.
At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A growing chorus of lawmakers has demanded that the government hold responsible people who allegedly helped Epstein engage in sex trafficking.
Senator Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, on Tuesday called on Barr to void a 2008 agreement that Epstein entered into with federal prosecutors in Florida that has been widely criticized as too lenient.
Under that deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and served 13 months in jail, but was allowed to leave the detention facility regularly for his office.
Some of Epstein’s accusers have called on the federal judge overseeing that case to scrap portions of the agreement, which provided immunity to Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators. In a letter to Barr, Sasse said the agreement should be thrown out altogether.
“This crooked deal cannot stand,” and should be voided to “ensure that some measure of justice is finally delivered to Epstein’s victims who have been let down time and time again by their government,” Sasse said.
Reporting by Makini Brice, Jeff Mason, Jonathan Allen, Karen Freifeld, Andrew Hay, Mark Hosenball, Matthew Lavietes, Rich McKay and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham