Jeffrey Epstein’s Death, Critical Thinking, and the Decline of Reporting

It’s ironic to hear the FBI whinge about conspiracy theories as a danger to public safety, yet see the officialdom, and even the press, handle the untimely death of Jeffrey Epstein in a manner almost guaranteed to maximize salacious interest and speculation.

The reason we are straying from our normal topics of interest to discuss Epstein is that the overarching mission of this website is to promote critical thinking. If you’ve been paying attention to news, it too often feels as if you’ve entered an informational hall of mirrors. Not only is the spin so heavy that it takes careful reading to separate information from innuendo, but with the rise in social media, the reaction to a news story often overwhelm the underlying event. For instance, witness the consternation about Bernie Sanders making a reasonable observation about the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign, that it’s biased against him and Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Post might have something to do with that. The indignant howls were a reminder of where the class interests of the press now lie.

With Epstein’s apparent suicide, it’s striking how none of the responsible adults have attempted to manage the press. Normally, in no less than 36 hours after an event like this, Someone Official holds a press conference. Even if they wind up saying almost nothing substantive, they make solemn reassurances about They Will Get to the Bottom of Things, and better yet, with some detail about the process (“The autopsy will be conducted by the office of X. We expect to receive a report by Y date, and to make key details public by Z date.”) Why hasn’t a such a basic move happened? It certainly suggests that the DoJ was caught with its pants down, and perhaps also that there has been serious turf war among the parties responsible for Epstein’s custody. (Attorney General William Barr did make some brief comments on the Epstein matter at a previously scheduled “law enforcement conference” in New Orleans).

There are more anomalies that reflect poorly on the caliber of reporting on this case, and we’ll highlight a few in the hopes that readers will discuss others. The coverage has had an epic level of opinion and fluff at the expense o gumshoe work to get at facts. Here it is, four days after Epstein’s demise, and there’s no timeline, no schematic of the prison, no details about what his cell was like. The closest we have is a single-source story from the New York Post, from a former inmate in the very same “9 South” cellblock for high-profile cases. This account curiously did not appear to lead to further investigation of these claims by Post or other venues. They should be verifiable or debunkable with interviews of other former inmates or guards, or alternatively, the slower route of FOIAs on the prison’s design and policies. Key parts of the August 10 article, which ran less than 12 hours after the time Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell:

There’s no way that man could have killed himself. I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility.

Between the floor and the ceiling is like 8 or 9 feet. There’s no way for you to connect to anything.

You have sheets, but they’re paper level, not strong enough. He was 200 pounds — it would never happen….

Could he have done it from the bed? No sir. There’s a steel frame, but you can’t move it. There’s no light fixture. There’s no bars.

They don’t give you enough in there that could successfully create an instrument of death. You want to write a letter, they give you rubber pens and maybe once a week a piece of paper.

Nothing hard or made of metal.

This source also said those cells had one or two occupants, and he was skeptical of the idea that a guy like Epstein would have been housed with anyone else. So if this account is accurate, it makes the idea of taking Epstein off suicide watch seem like less of a stretch because there weren’t suicide makings in a regular cell or with regular prison garb. But the lack of camera monitoring of the cell proper (reported by the Post) lends itself to speculation about alternative scenarios…like the prison version of assisted suicide.

It’s important to be skeptical of single sourced accounts, as well as recognizing that more detailed accounts are seen as more credible, so the Post example is particularly appealing. But where are the other accounts? Why the lack of press probing into the routines for that prison? Has the New York Times abandoned its tradition of having reporters start out on the Metro Desk, doing gumshoe work on things like fires and babies in dumpsters?

Another striking anomaly came when the New York Times reported that one of the two Epstein guards was a temp assigned from another job at the facility. The Times had earlier reported on this practice as a response to under-staffing:

One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he apparently hanged himself in a federal jail cell was not a full-fledged correctional officer, and neither guard had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was discovered, prison and law-enforcement officials said….

No correctional officer had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was found, even though guards were supposed to look in on prisoners in the protective unit where he was housed every half-hour…

This story has a single source reporting that Epstein hung himself with a bedsheet.

Today the Times reported that the two guards were sleeping for three hours and falsified records and the Associated Press added that the surveillance cameras showed the guards didn’t makes the rounds.

This is fine as far as it goes, but it is awfully thin gruel relative to the questions swirling over the weekend, like why the apparent considerable gap of time (by the standards of emergencies) between when Epstein was found and when he was wheeled into to the hospital an hour later?1

And then there’s the bizarre show of the raid on Epstein’s island. Was that displacement activity? If it was an important target, why after he was dead and not earlier?

This is a long-winded way of saying that I hope readers will identify other issues with what the public knows and doesn’t know about Epstein’s death, with attention to the caliber of the information behind what the press has reported and where there are gaps. If the government wants to put paid to some of the wilder theories, like Epstein’s death was a Mossad rendition (either on site or via extraction), coughing up more information would be a good place to start.


1 I am putting this in a footnote due to its speculative nature. A colleague who claims to know the operation of the Downtown Hospital says emergency arrivals never go in this way. The ambulance backs up and the gurney is hauled out and there’s no vantage point for a shot like this one. The prominent signs would make one think this contact has it wrong, so I will leave this for any readers familiar with this facility to pipe up.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    As you suggest, the lack of real reportage is striking – it seems very few journalists seem to know how to actually report stories anymore. Last year I read Seymour Hersh’s great memoir ‘Reporter’. While its clear from what he said there was no true ‘Golden Age’ for reporters – there was always interference – it seems the balance has fundamentally changed to managers, not reporters in media outlets pretty much everywhere. The fact that Hersh himself has been confined to fringe publications says all you really need to know. 30 years ago Hersh or one of his contemporaries would be all over this story and worming out every possible morsel of information.

    I was watching a clip on Joe Rogan yesterday and he mentioned how one of his arch sceptic friend was dismissive of any kind of ‘conspiracy theory’ for Epsteins death. ‘Paedo commits suicide before trial’ is hardly news. But to go to our old friend, Occams Razor, this is really one case where a convoluted murder of some type actually makes far more sense than a story of suicide. His death is just too convenient and the apparent sloppiness of the prison authorities makes no sense for such a very high profile prisoner.

    1. Yan

      Lets go full tinfoil hat here: Jeffrey Epstein is alive, he cut a deal to move to his island and not speak out. All the photo ops of the gurney are a way to distract and the raid on the island was actually a relocation operation to move him there. Now the island will be off limits to anyone.

      1. Clive

        But why?

        In descending order of “least helpful to a whole lot of people”, we have four possible states for Epstein:

        1) Dead — through a genuine suicide
        2) Dead — through some sort of foul play (that will need to be kept covered up, but at least that’s only a one-time event so isn’t a dynamic and unpredictable situation)
        3) Alive, still, but earmarked for being killed later once some ulterior purpose has been served such as information obtained — but why not do this in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (or move him to another facility such as a “hospital”) first, why such a ridiculously convoluted and thereby risky subterfuge?
        4) Alive with an intention of keeping him that way, but having to be kept — permanently, with virtually limitless possibilities for discovery — out of sight in a perpetual conspiracy.

        Going back to the original request in the post — critical thinking skills need to be applied. What you’re suggesting doesn’t make sense on anything than a “god awful cock up” basis and even then, an elimination-then-clean-up operation would soon have been put into action. To put it more succinctly, even if he was alive, he’d be dead now.

        1. Tom

          The argument for Epstein still being alive is that he would have set up a dead-man switch, a mechanism so that if he dies then the evidence he has on others is automatically published. Seems like a reasonable precaution to take.

          If that’s the case then the conspirators that need to prevent the evidence becoming public need to stop the trial and prevent his death. Hence the idea that they staged an apparent suicide with a body double and got Epstein safely outta there.

          So the hypothesis goes.

          1. Clive

            Then you get a tame judge assigned (and that’s nothing new, even Johnny Carson used to joke “do you know how bad the economy is these days?” [sidekick] “no, Johnny, just how bad is the economy?” “it’s so bad, organised crime has had to lay off 5 judges this week…”) to let Epstein off with a slap on the wrist, a year at the Four Seasons low security penitentiary and early release through time served.

            Much simpler than any of the other notions and achieves exactly the same result (Epstein is subject to “the full force of the law” but stays happily alive to tell the tale and keep his finger off the Dead Mans Switch).

            If you were in charge of all this, which solution would you try first? If you’ve ever worked in a big, but incompetent, organisation (and if they’re big, they’re almost certainly going to be incompetence personified), you wouldn’t even need to ask yourself that question.

            1. Tom

              Tame judge would be the best option were it available. I don’t think it was. That wasn’t going to work again. If a judicial process were to proceed it would need to be seen to be a proper trial.

              1. Clive

                Someone’s never heard of Xavier Becerra. And he’s not that bad, considering some of the others operating in the US. As for ” [if a] judicial process were to proceed it would need to be seen to be a proper trial…” I wish I could share your sense of optimism — most casual observers would be happy to have seen Epstein paraded around in an orange jumpsuit and being manhandled by the cops on the steps of the courtroom, besieged by, ah-hem, “the press”. Once out the limelight and following his (second) 15 minutes of infamy, few would have cared about the inner workings of any trial, the sentence or what happened after any (inevitably early) release.

                Incidentally and unrelated, but I can’t help to mention it, simply because… Becerra’s a moment ago had the temerity to tweet “I’ve got the backs of the people of California”, to which I can only retort: yes, that’s just so you can knife them in it.

            2. False Solace

              They did indeed try the “tame judge” option first — in Florida. Quite a sweetheart deal.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            How can the conspirators keep the information from becoming public? The prosecutors have over a million pages of documents. It is not inconceivable that Congresscritters could demand that that be handed over to the private plaintiffs suing his estate. Or they could discover it independently, admittedly at their cost.

            1. Procopius

              Simple. Just tell “the prosecutors” that it all “belongs to Intel.” Everything will be sealed for fifty years and further investigation will be stopped. Why didn’t any reporter or Congressperson ask Acosta who was the person who told him, “Epstein belongs to Intel.”? Of course his answer is, “I can’t say because of Department of Justice policies.”

          3. fajensen

            The inverse argument for him being dead would then be that someone had him killed *because* that would set of the dead-mans switch and presumably frag their enemies.

            Maybe the Russians did it? Or the British, like:

            Maybe one of the “minor perps with power and a lot to lose” which knows he is in the files had it done to stop the investigation and press coverage being directed mostly at him by his enemies? When “everyone suddenly does it” the authorities might well not get to him for a long while, simply because of case load, and when they finally do, then the outrage may have dissipated somewhat and he gets off a lot easier.

          4. Jim

            The July assault on Epstein in his prison cell by a murderous ex-cop could very well have been for the purpose of “extracting” the details of a dead man switch (or other information caches). After extracting that information, it’s easy to imagine the rest of the conversation going something like, “We’re going to investigate what you told us. If you’ve told us the truth, we’ll let you live the rest of your life in a comfortable, secure location (which could be a lie). But if you’ve lied to us, we’ll come back and make sure your death is a very slow and painful experience.” Epstein would have every incentive to cooperate, having been beaten to within an inch of his life, and not wanting to repeat that experience. But even if he happened to lie and let the dead man switch flip, the chances of the PTB successfully killing the story by threatening or bribing recipients is quite high, considering the success of 9/11 and other prior coverups.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              You are out over you skis. We specifically asked readers to be rigorous about information and sourcing, not go off and make shit up, which separately is a violation of our written site Polices. Stop embarrassing yourself and this site.

              1. Jim

                Yves, my intent is certainly not to embarrass your great site, so if you feel it appropriate to remove my post, I understand. However, given the number of factual gaps and the credulous nature of Big Media reporting so far, I suggest that all of us are over our skis. Short of trusting DoJ and the media to come up with something believable, we are left with the option of developing theories that fit confirmed facts – which are few, in this case.

        2. PKMKII

          There is one scenario in which “Epstein was extracted and still alive” makes sense, which is if he had a dead man’s switch somewhere that would dump all the incriminating information on the doorstep of every major media outlet if he died. In that case, whoever extracted him would want him alive to prevent the dead man’s switch from being activated while removing the possibility of the case going to trial.

          1. Procopius

            I’ve thought the same thing, but now I’m coming to the idea that he didn’t. He should have, but it would not be easy. Probably that’s one reason Wikileaks is under attack — not because of Epstein, but because it’s one of the few possible tools for a dead man’s switch. No, I just think it’s probably that Epstein was complacent and believed he would never be punished for his deviant way of life. I would bet all his evidence has already been seized.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Whatever blackmail material JE might have possessed — and if it incriminated enough major businessmen and politicians, it would be worth more than all the gold in Ft. Knox — becomes worthless the minute it becomes public. There is nobody in a position of power that wants it all released. Nobody near the levers of power benefits, therefore my assumption is that it never will see the light of day.

        3. WJ

          Epstein and Maxwell were running a sophisticated blackmail operation targeting the most powerful people in the Western world. If this *was* a Mossad operation, and he an operative, then they would have motive to try to extract and relocate him, probably to Israel or South America, under a new identity. You can’t easily recruit future deep cover agents if you leave somebody like Epstein hanging out to dry.

          Not saying this is what happened. I have no idea what happened.

          Also PKMKII raises another possibility that is just as likely. Though I think Epstein was clearly linked with Mossad / CIA in some way.

          Adding to Yves’ post above, How come no journalist has asked Acosta to clarify or expound upon what he meant by saying that he could not prosecute Epstein because “he belonged to intelligence”. That’s pretty explicit right there.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            epstein was in Europe. He was arrested at the airport upon his return to the u.s. Five weeks later he’s dead. Chaos ensues.

            If someone wanted to disappear/kill him, wouldn’t it be less messy and noisy to do it from there?

            What I’d like to know is why he came back in the first place. What was he expecting (or not expecting)? The feds met him at the airport and he never saw the light of day after that. Didn’t I read that, upon seeing the authorities at the airport, he tried to jump back on the plane before surrendering?

            I’d like to see someone go to Paris and interview whoever he was hanging out with there to find out what was going on.

            1. WJ

              I did not read about Epstein jumping back on the plane.

              I think it very probable that he knew in advance he was going to be arrested. See the history of the prior trial for precedent.

              Why did the Feds arrest him now? Maybe to distract from the media scandal surrounding his earlier deal? To save face etc?

              That is the most prosaic answer I think. Certainly there didn’t seem to be any real urgency about him until the details of his prior deal and the subsequent civil lawsuit were made known.

              1. J7915

                Maybe the question should be: who met him at the plane?
                This sounds like a b-movie based on The Broker by Grisham and sub-plots from varius other authors, Furst, Kerr et al.

                Maybe not far fetched, all good novels seem to have a fact to hang the plot on.

            2. Leroy

              I’d like to see somebody, anybody, tell me the truth !! I would NEVER believe any person even remotely connected to this government, least of all, Billy Barr. We are experiencing rampant corruption in this government so the constant pointing at Bill Clinton is very curious eh ? If and when we ever do get to find the truth, it will not be from anyone connected to this nefarious character. I’ll trust an inmate first, then demand a rebuttal from another inmate.

              1. pretzelattack

                i don’t find the finger pointing at clinton curious, since he was a frequent flier on the lolita express.

                1. Harold

                  The NY Times described the data on the flight manifests as something reported by Fox News, as though it were unreliable gossip not fact. Maxwell’s presence at Chelsea’s wedding also goes unmentioned. The coverup seems to be aimed at protecting the Clintons.

                  1. False Solace

                    The Clintons aren’t in power. Meanwhile we have photos and video of the current POTUS partying with Epstein and documentation of them throwing parties with multiple women at Mar a Lago.

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      Yeah, but that was what, fifteen years ago and not since then after Trump gave him the boot. Trump may have suspected that Epstein was trying to set him up with a young honey trap. Contacts with the Clintons and Epstein have been more frequent since then.

              2. Pookah Harvey

                Barr’s father hired Epstein to teach mathematics at Manhattan’s prestigious Dalton School that gave Epstein his first access to the elite. From reports Epstein seemed unqualified for the position. This seems puzzling. AG Barr previously worked for Kirkland & Ellis, a law firm that represented Epstein during the Florida investigation. Acosta was the prosecuting attorney in that case.
                The AG’s office has announced that Barr will recuse himself from the Acosta investigation but not from the Epstein investigation. This seems very puzzling as Barr has only a distant professional association with Acosta but both professional and personal association with Epstein.

                1. kiwi

                  It’s a small world.

                  My dad was in Russia (Sakhalin island) for a year or two for work around 1999. It turned out that his Russian interpreter was a friend of my co-workers’ husband. The husband and the interpreter had met when the husband was in Viet Nam (if I recall the country correctly) during the Reagan era.

                  All of us (me, my Dad, the couple) are just your standard issue white caucasians here in the US.

                2. Harold

                  According to what I read on this site, Epstein gave Dalton the impression he had studied at Stanford. He was hired something like a month before Donald Barr resigned (or was fired), during a chaotic period when they were short of teachers, and did most of his teaching after Barr had left (I don’t have the exact dates). In anycase, the connection is not as clear as it might appear. Epstein seems to have been more popular with the parents than with the other teachers. It certainly is suggestive, though, that Barr wrote that Science Fiction book featuring sex slaves.

                  1. Procopius

                    The “[s]cience Fiction book featuring sex slaves” thingy goes back a long time. When I was a kid Edgar Rice Burroughs was still popular. If you’ve never read the Barsoom series I feel sorry for you. I can tell you my teenage libido was stimulated by his imagery. Ah, The Princess of Mars. The cover artists really knew how to make the most of very little naked flesh (in those days it was daring for a girl’s skirt to be more than six inches above her ankles).

                    1. FKorning

                      That may be, but those racy sci-fi and comic covers featured buxom adult women – not pubescent girls..

                  2. Harold

                    Update: Donald Barr resigned from Dalton in February 1974.
                    Epstein was started teaching at Dalton in Sept 1974 (according to wikipedia), which would have been the start of the subsequent school year. Though possible, it seems unlikely that Barr would have hired him. Only an examination of the school records can provide evidence, one way or the other. He remained on the school faculty until 1976.

                  3. Yves Smith Post author

                    No, that is not what I said.

                    An account (I believe Vanity Fair) had Epstein asking the guy who had hired him from Dalton to work at Bear, Michael Tennenbaum, for forgiveness because Epstein had lied on his bio, claiming he’d gone to Stanford when he hadn’t.

                    I speculated that he told the same lie to Dalton since otherwise he didn’t have the credentials to have landed that job.

                    1. Harold

                      So sorry. I didn’t mean to appear to be replying to Yves. Somehow lost track of my unfinished post while double checking to see how long Epstein taught at Dalton, and found and submitted it hours later — in meantime thread had expanded. I should have started over by copy and paste. Just wanted to dispel some of the widespread confusion about Donald Barr’s alleged hiring of Epstein. The hiring seem to have occurred during a chaotic transitional period at the school.

                3. Yves Smith Post author

                  It was reported in Vanity Fair that Epstein confessed to his sponsor at Bear Stearns, Michael Tennenbaum (who was a heavyweight at Bear) that he’d lied about his CV, that he never went to Stanford as he claimed.

                  That makes it seem probable that Epstein also lied to Dalton about his credentials.

          2. Harold

            How come no journalist has asked Acosta to clarify or expound upon what he meant by saying that he could not prosecute Epstein because “he belonged to intelligence”.

            Also, who was it, exactly, that told Acosta, Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and was “above his [Acosta’s] paygrade,” and why did Acosta listen to them?

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              A guy like Acosta has bosses. I had taken the intelligence claim as one of the few things someone higher up could say to Acosta to get him to stand down that Acosta could not challenge.

              There are also tons of people who are deemed to be “intelligence assets” who aren’t in the employ of a spy organization but do occasional helpful things, like tell a spook too much about what is going on at their employer. So this is hardly black and white.

              1. Procopius

                Quite right, and speaking of bosses, I find it interesting that none of the published stories about it ever mention who Acosta’s bosses were. I think there’s fertile ground there for somebody who is not controlled by one of the six corporations that own most of the orthodox media. This has been one of the most extraordinary cases of people noticing the absence of a barking dog since the Skripal Affair, which is even more (if possible) bizarrely improbable.

              2. John Lambert

                Yes he had bosses. The local US attorney is under higher ups at the DOJ. However at this point we need him to name who specifically told him what and then go interview those people to see if they will admit to saying it and explain it. More details are needed from Acosta.

              3. Bryant

                I wonder if Trump hired Acosta to start the whole chain of events? The media started complaining about Acosta and then the Epstein story was brought to light. I have a feeling Trump is involved is getting Epstein on a witness protection program and he will have his day in court yet, naming names. I shutter when I hear that the FBI are investigating this, thanks to Comey, McCabe, Strozk and others.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            This is sheer speculation and you need to label it as such. You are discrediting yourself and the site.

            Epstein clearly had an insatiable sexual appetite. You don’t run a sting operation when you are deeper in it than everyone else.

            I am of the view that the girls aside from being Epstein’s favorite leisure activity were cover for other dirty lucrative activities, like money laundering or other tax-evasion measures.

            A former DA is also skeptical of the blackmail thesis and thinks people would pay big simply for access, and Epstein cultivated that in a huge way. There’s an early story of him holding a glittering tout Manhattan party in the 1980s, where everyone there was impressed by how many other important people were there.

            There’s a long history of people paying huge amounts for access going back to at least Talleyrand, who demanded eye-rollingly large bribes when he was France’s Foreign Minister under Napoleon.

            1. FKorning

              Which doesn’t invalidate silencing him. Whether or not kompromat was collected and used, the lingering suggestion of it might have been enough for any alleged participant to get nervous. The raid might have been to useful to both search for evidence, but also to prove of disprove the existence of cameras, for example. At this point we just don’t know. More testimony and documented proof is needed.

        4. flora

          Epstein had started talking to an author a year ago, according the the Rolling Stone story in today’s links:

          What is known is that with his stash of mystery money he built a wired-up sybaritic paradise for horny powerful men, stocked with sexually groomed young girls and women. He then became a keeper of their secrets, as he bragged to author James B. Stewart last year. “The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it,” Stewart wrote in the New York Times. “He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.”

          Bragging about knowing the secrets of the powerful…. Was he becoming unreliable? Dead men tell no tails, as the saying goes. This is speculation on my part.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Flora.

            Further to the Rolling Stone link about Ghislaine Maxwell, one wonders if Australian and British taxpayer money donated to the Clinton Foundation was used to fund projects the Clinton and Ghislaine Maxwell foundations ran together until the latter’s Terra Mar Foundation was wound up.

            British journalists I have spoken to are reluctant to investigate as they fear the Clinton machine and / or want to ingratiate themselves on the related circuit.

            1. Harold

              That Epstein and his lawyers claimed (as part of his defense in 2008) to have been responsible for helping to set up the Clinton Global Initiative and to have contributed seed money to it, along with his setting up “charitable” foundations for other prominent billionaires is surprisingly absent from recent official accounts. Does anyone know any more about this?

              1. Colonel Smithers

                Thank you, Harold.

                Unfortunately, I don’t, but I am aware of these so called charities using Canadian structures to avoid transparency and tax obligations.

          2. mpalomar

            How reliable is a guy who names his flying rape crib the Lolita Express? Epstein seemingly has made a successful career of criminal behaviour because much of society is deeply corrupt.
            As we watch the Bilderbergers and Davos men and women in action I can’t help but think of the joke about the aristocrats.

        5. toshiro_mifune

          There is also option 5;

          5) He is both alive and dead at the same time until we observe him and collapse the wave function.

          Apologies, I’ve been re-reading stuff on quantum mechanics lately and its on the brain.

          1. Clive

            Ha! Schrödinger’s pimp! You don’t know if you’re going to get lucky until you see the body and make a positive ID through dental records or DNA testing. Or something.

        6. Summer

          With the all powerful connections that would have to be employed to do such a “fake death,” why wouldn’t they have used those connections to prevent, from behind the scenes, the resurgence of charges? He already had the sweet heart deal. It would have been out of the limelight to force the continuation of that deal.

      2. Jesper

        Of the theories floating around that one is my favourite. Next one might be about why his place was searched only after his death – flying there with the search-team might be a good way of transporting him to his island….

        I’m not sure why Epstein returned to the US, possibly some very big miscalculations about where he’d be held if he even considered the risk of being arrested. So far the story is that he voluntarily returned to the US where he then was arrested (surprisingly?) and then he committed suicide.
        Based on his history then I don’t see him as dumb nor do I see him as anything but a (somewhat dirty) fighter and survivor.

        1. James

          You’re half way there. The return and arrest was part of the process of eliminating the “Jeffrey Epstein” asset, who had served his purposes and was to be retired. The whole arrest, imprisonment, and suicide shtick was an elaborate ruse to establish that Jeffrey Epstein is no more, RIP, we barely knew ye. From there, he could have been spirited back to Lolita Island as part of the raid, or that could have just been more storyboarding in support of the larger ruse, either way the real Jeffrey Epstein (will you please stand up!) was whisked away to have plastic surgery and a new identity established (if there wasn’t one waiting already) and a new life elsewhere as a well remunerated kept man for the rest of his days. He was of course a CIA/MI6/Mossad operative for all of his days thus far, so that’s for life and will never change, although his activity level will probably decrease considerably from here on out. In the end, Epstein was little more than a small cog – albeit a vitally important one – in a much larger intelligence gathering and sting operation, as compromise is what makes the world go ’round in DC and international politics. Job well done Jeffrey!

          1. Susan the other`

            Robert Maxwell also died under strange circumstances. Found floating next to his yacht. Not to be too ghoulish, but I’d like to see a few official photos of the dead Mr. Epstein. He had such a distinctive, long, bony face it would be hard to find a convincing doppleganger.

              1. Elizabeth

                James, this is my tinfoil belief also – the question as to why he returned to the U.S. has never been asked (by the lamestream press) – much less answered. With all his powerful connections, surely someone could have tipped him off as to what was waiting for him. But, what if this was all part of the plan -to get arrested, thrown in jail, and then “commit suicide” – it all kind of fits to me. When I read the FBI raided his Virgin Island property, I thought the FBI probably flew him back there. Why raid the place now – it could have been done years ago.

                The narrative we’re asked to believe defies credulity. It’s as if it’s being made up as something new every day. Also, why has it taken so long to get the autopsy results? If he hanged himself, it would seem that the hanging evidence would be evident. Maybe they’re waiting for a “tox screen” which takes about 6 weeks. Conspiracy theories will flourish until believable, evidential, material presents itself. I won’t hold my breath..

                1. Heraclitus

                  Since we’re in tinfoil hat territory:

                  One wonders if a fake suicide was the plan from the time of his plea bargain. There’s the mysterious ‘in this district’ part of the plea bargain that the SDNY claims allows them to pursue Epstein again over the same facts as he negotiated the plea bargain over. This has been presented as a mistake on the part of his lawyers, but it may have been quite intentional.

                  Also, I note that the most important effect of the Epstein revelations so far is that Ehud Barak has been disadvantaged in the Israeli elections.

                2. James


                  I think of it as a classic crucifiction and resurrection tale, with the resurrection of course being revealed comfortably out of sight to only a select few. I’m sure the planners got a good chuckle (and no doubt, take a fair amount of artistic pride in their work) out of the similarities. And yes, an operation of this apparent magnitude (not really all that great) can be and is carried off all the time. Other than the tawdry aspects (to heighten the depraved public’s interests), this whole story was really no big deal. Imagine, if you will, if it was only about money; i.e., garden variety corruption (billionaire financier wines and dines jetset global pols in influence peddling scheme). It would have barely raised a blip on the public radar.

          2. Alex Cox

            Makes no sense. It would have been much easier for the powers that be to have Epstein die ‘accidentally’ in France than fly him back to the US for an enormous MSM beanfeast.

          3. ANONYMOUS

            Billionaires always have an Emergency plan long before trouble is on any horizon, especially if they are dirty. Underground facilities, hidden escape tunnels, technological advantages in ways we cannot imagine, connections in most every corner of the earth, equally rich and powerful people to assist them for a large variety of reasons, media on payroll, law enforcement on payroll, Justice System on payroll, strategists and masterminds behind closed doors, currency from most countries, access to passports and identifications to easily move throughout the world, and years of gathering everything I just mentioned so in case things get dicey the Billionaire has a list of options of escape. This is the true evaluation of any Billionaires set of circumstances. Any stories told to us are most certainly FALSE. The saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, has far more than just one meaning.

      3. JB

        Going down the road of “he’s alive”, if you believe the raid is tied to his “suicide”, then perhaps he cut a deal in which he is freed, undergoes plastic surgery, and relocates halfway around the world (e.g., Israel) in return for the location of the master copies of his blackmail (e.g., videos) for either destruction or CIA blackmail purposes. He provides the location once he’s secure (e.g., on the jet outside of U.S. airspace, or landed at his destination). Much of the rest is just an elaborate charade.

      4. sharon scherzer

        absolutely considering his past, his present and the danger he represented to influential people in the future but most fundamentally and I know it is subjective, he is the type to NEVER consider killing himself….I am sure almost he did not yearn for the afterlife etc., no, he had the ways and certainly the means and the necessary time and connections to arrange a disappearance. There certainly will be sightings, real or unreal and I would presume to consider his greatest weakness is personal vanity that perhaps some day in the future might cause him to resent a lack of living identity which he so groomed and cherished…..also, I can only await a somewhat sensational novel with a similar plot……. Basically it is and is not an historical event in this age of virtual reality where ‘truth’ is no great consideration, just the illusion.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “Lack of real reportage” is not really accurate. Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald has doggedly pursued this since the 2008 sham plea deal. Conchita Sarnoff is an investigative journalist who wrote a book on epstein called TrafficKing, and recently called bullshit on bill clinton’s claim to “only” have taken four flights on the Lolita Express. And of course there’s Whitney Webb.

      There’s plenty of “real reportage,” just not in what’s generally considered “mainstream” media, which, as with Russiagate, defines and controls the narrative parameters. This just makes it easier to characterize inconvenient info that happens to slip out as “conspiracy theory,” muddying the waters until control can be regained or public attention refocused.

      And “refocusing” is what’s in the process of happening right now. Rather than interviewing Julie Brown or Conchita Sarnoff or Whitney Webb non-stop about what epstein and the rest actually did in full view of TPTB, we’re now being told that the issue really is overworked, “sleeping” guards and other “irregularities” at the prison leading to a suicide.

      1. flora

        This just makes it easier to characterize inconvenient info that happens to slip out as “conspiracy theory,” muddying the waters until control can be regained or public attention refocused.

        Good point. Ray McGovern in a Consortium News article makes the same point re reporting about the Seth Rich murder:

        “Conspiracy Theorists

        “Simply letting the name “Seth Rich” pass your lips can condemn you to the leper colony built by the Washington Establishment for “conspiracy theorists,” (the term regularly applied to someone determined to seek tangible evidence, and who is open to alternatives [explainations] to “Russia-did-it.”)

        “That epithet has a sordid history in the annals of U.S. intelligence. Legendary CIA Director Allen Dulles used the “brand-them-conspiracy-theorists” ploy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when many objected — understandably — to letting him pretty much run the Warren Commission ,…. The “conspiracy theorist” tactic worked like a charm then, and now. Well, up until just now.”

        1. flora

          shorter: the “brand-them-as-conspiracy-theorists” ploy [ridicule] is used to shut down reasonable questioning by reporters and others, imo.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Just to clarify, when I said ‘lack of real reportage’ I was referring to Epsteins death, not the previous allegations against him. The key point is that the media seem content to sit back and comment, rather than do real work in investigating the death (although to be fair, its early days, so maybe some stories will be dug up).

        But even then, the fact that only a handful of brave journalists went after Epstein, despite it being such a big juicy story is telling. Brown was reported as saying her police contacts were tired of telling journalists about Epstein, every story seemed to get buried.

      3. polecat

        Who’s to say that some higher ups within the MSM are not Also implicated in the scheme of All things Epstein …

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        You are off base. I suggest you bone up on your reading skills.

        This post is about his death, as the headline and opening sentence make clear. Your references are to reporting before he died.

      5. John Lambert

        Yes but what is asked for here is reporting on the death. I would say even Epstein’s life is too transparent. How did a non-college grad become a teacher at a super elite school? Did he have other clients besides Wexner? At this point we need to know every detail about the prison. We need to know why the two guards on the most notable prisoner in US custody were asleep. We need lots more info and not just hot air and grandstanding.

    3. calltoaccount

      Below is original NY Post editorial comment with photo, and further reference to several challenges to authenticity of the photo and the whole suicide story.
      Dubious sources perhaps, but looks like the NYPost photo is definitely a phony.
      If Epstein was, in fact, intel agent for Mossad, not so far-fetched they (with help) would have liberated him with suicide cover story.

      3rd party commentaries with comparison photos:

    4. Harry

      Totally agree. A man who appeared to run a photo agency for politicians and their young “girlfriends” (?) is likely to have had exactly the right “currency” on hand to obtain leniency. He certainly did the first time he was brought to justice to “answer” for his crimes.

      What led him to despair this time?

      1. John Lambert

        Denial of bail. A raid on his home in NYC that got child porn. Acosta resigning signaling the game was up. New York’s law that makes it so any of his underaged victims have a year to bring suit without regard to statute of limitations. Wexner saying he was an embezzler. The huge document release the day before.

    5. John Lambert

      I think journalism in general is lacking. Pulling quotes from Twitter has too often replaced interviews. Too many articles interview one side and quote the other side’s website. Still this is a story that is begging for better coverage.

    6. Suzanne

      Explainations of conspiracy seem plausible, however, all of the innuendo about Hillary, or Bill, or whatever is so politically motivated it stinks of rancid meat. For God sakes people, how about a hundred other people in high places who have real reasons to want this guy unable to testify.

  2. horostam

    this is 100% speculation, but what if it was a sex thing? He was prolly a sex addict, maybe he needed to strangle himself or whatever to get off and the guards let him cause they were tired of watching him masturbating all day or whatever

    i know it sounds like a joke but im serious.. would explain the previous incident from weeks earlier too

    1. William Peterson

      The clinical term you may be looking for is “auto-erotic asphyxiation.” In laymans terms perhaps “gasper.”

    2. mle in detroit

      I haven’t ddg’d for links to support this, but I recall that 20-30 years ago,more than one British MP accidentally became dead just this way. It’s not a joke.

      1. John A

        The British MP you refer to was Stephen Milligan. There are various ‘conspiracy theories’ that Milligan was murdered by MI6, and that a calling card of British intelligence murders is dressing the victim to appear to have engaged in some sex game gone wrong.

    3. Ian Perkins

      In a cell designed to prevent suicide, with paper-like sheets, and no way to reach the ceiling which had nothing to tie anything to, he accidentally found a way while trying to pleasure himself?

    4. T

      Your theory appeals to my “razor” that the most dumb, pathetic explanation is most likely.

      Some of the victims reported that he required something sexual three times a day.

  3. Lydia Marie Child

    Tried to add a couple links to two recent episodes of Chapo Trap House, which take deep dives into this Epstein affair. Probably censored out again, as ALL of my posts here are. Not even sure why I bother anymore…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You comments are not “censored” and that claim shows you have not bothered reading our site Policies. Had you done so, you would know that complaining about moderation earns you troll points. I’ve never seen your name in moderation, evah. Using multiple handles and e-mail addresses is a fast track to having our software treat you as a spammer, and we don’t go rummaging in our thousands of spam messages a day to hoist out one or two bona fide comments. So if you’ve been doing that, you have no one but yourself to blame for your comments not appearing.

          1. Arizona Slim

            FWIW, there are times when my comments are greeting by that “awaiting moderation” box.

            So, what does this slender Arizonan do? Well, I go and wash the dishes, take a walk, work in the yard, and, maybe-just-maybe, take a nap.

            And, lo and behold, when I return to the NC site, there’s my comment.

            1. tegnost

              +1, that’s what I do also. Don’t train the algo to be wary of you…and especially don’t whinge, the moderation is beneficial to the content.

            2. Ian Perkins

              I’ve stopped using the embedded link facility (between italics & quote, at the top of the commenting box) as I often get the “awaiting moderation” thing, but unlike Arizona Slim, my comment does not appear, even a day later.
              Simply pasting the whole link into the comment looks a bit uglier, but works.

              1. Anon

                Links are usually always moderated, it seems, in my experience. Learning how to format the link in the comment properly is a skill.

                1. Ian Perkins

                  So give us a clue: how do we format it properly?
                  I’d been clicking on the link icon thingy, and pasting my link where it says http:// . Should I be doing something else?

                  1. ewmayer

                    To insert a formatted link (i.e. not just raw url, but a user-chosen caption on top of an underlying url) manually, you need to format it as a proper html hyperlink:

                    less-than-bracket, followed by letter a, followed by href=”[url here]”, followed by greater-than-bracket, followed by link title, followed by less-than-bracket, followed by /, followed by letter a, followed by greater-than-bracket.

                    I always link this way, but also find links increase the odds of relegation to the moderation-queue, so limit myself to no more than 1 link per post.

                    And sometimes posts disappear entirely … cue is that no “moderation” message appears, but neither does the post, even after several minutes and a refresh-page. In that case, if it was not a major post I move on, but if I spent significant time offline-composing it (you *always* want to do longer posts his way), I forward the resulting url (which will be that of the article inquestion, plus an added-on comment-number field) to Lambert with a “please look in between the Skynet sofa cushions for this vanished post if you can find the time”. He’s been able to dig out more than a few for me that way.

                    1. Ian Perkins

                      Hm. Looks a lot easier to make a mistake than either of the ways I’ve been using (paste directly into comment / paste into the ‘link’ icon thingy).
                      And you still sometimes get the moderation thing, especially for more than one link. It was two links that first got me the “awaiting moderation” message, and it sounds like that was what Lydia Marie Child was doing.
                      Still, thanks. I’ve saved your reply, though it looks a bit too geeky for me.

            3. polecat

              Some days, mine drift over to moderation purgatory .. never to make it up onto the comment mountain peak … I don’t whing – I just roll another comment boulder back uphill while changing my footing.

            4. lordkoos

              I don’t think it would be possible to avoid the civil suits, there are too many victims out there, any of whom could decide to get a lawyer and start a case at any time.

              I don’t think the idea that Mossad could have been involved in Epstein’s death to be that crazy. Epstein had connections to Israel, and I believe there were Israeli men on some of his “Lolita express” junkets.

              The lack of reporting is indeed striking, the lid is definitely being kept on this it would seem. Nor is it a stretch that he was an intelligence asset, either for the US or Israel, or both. Having dirt on powerful people is the best way to control them. Why would elites want a politician that they couldn’t control? It’s not like it hasn’t been done before… the J. Edgar Hoover school of operations.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Giuffre has named Ehud Barak, I believe. However, that’s in a long list of prominent or powerful men – and Ghislaine Maxwell.

  4. Bob

    Mr. Epstein’s career and life pursuits were odd.

    From here the official responses appear to be designed to confuse and to muddle the facts. As far as the FBI raid on Mr. Epstein’s island, I expect this is to clean up loose ends. And of course the FBI will use the standard play book – “We never comment on an ongoing investigation.” This is of course a lie or a commonly used deflection. This tactic often used by the FBI to cover up or to hide embarassing evidence.

    Here are some possible avenues –

    1) Mr. Acosta and his team of DOJ lawyers could be disbarred since the Florida office of the DOJ violated federal law in not reporting the terms of the settlement to the victims. A Federal judge clearly mentioned that Mr. Acosta violated the law. This is a felony. Note that any ordinary citizen can file a complaint with the Florida Bar.
    2) An argument can be made that since the DOJ team broke Federal law that the terms of the settlement are null and void. It follows that the immunity from prosecution agreement is null and void. This means that the folks that received immunity could be prosecuted.
    3) The FAA should revoke the pilot licenses of the pilots of the Mr. Epstein’s aircraft since the pilots broke the Mann Act knowingly and repeatedly.

    What will really happen –

    Expect the waters will continue to be muddied and muddled. And no one least of all the victims will see an end to this case. Instead it will be left to stink and rot in some forgotten corner.

    1. Lydia Marie Child

      One of the more chilling comments I’ve heard a few days ago was in regards to the victims and accusers of Epstein and his elite pervert friends. Basically: are any of them in danger, too? Anyone following this disgusting tale understands that that isn’t a far-fetched idea. Just look at all the activists in Ferguson, MO who have all been “mysteriously” found dead of late…and that’s a pretty small-scale story in comparison.

      1. lordkoos

        I would guess that the murders (which is likely what they are) of activists in Ferguson may have been committed by local police. Whoever is killing those people has a good understanding of rules of evidence. One activist was burned to death in his car as I recall. I haven’t seen where any journalist has been investigating or attempting to link any of those deaths, does anyone have any links to anything like that?

        1. John Lambert

          I would guess with a high crime city like Fergison the murders are just run of the mill murders. Of course I live in Detroit where 8 people killed in a barber shop barely made the news.

    2. Steve H.

      The reporting pushes the idea that Acosta was turfed out for the Epstein deal. I’d say he was turfed in for it. He got turfed out for being quoted that he was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence.’

    3. Heraclitus

      Acosta had two explanations for not contacting the victims about the settlement. Both were good ones, IMO. One was that the state scheduled the signing on a Monday after the agreement was reached on Thursday or Friday. This left little time, and the timing was of the signing was not necessarily up to the Feds. They didn’t want Epstein to balk at signing the deal, and that was a risk if they gave him more time. His lawyers had walked away many times during the process.

      The other explanation was that, if Acosta had informed the victims about the full settlement, which included extensive and unusual means for the victims to pursue monetary redress from Epstein, means that were ‘fast tracked’ by eliminating many of Epstein’s potential legal and procedural defenses, then, had Epstein balked at the deal at the last moment, Epstein would have had an important tool in his arsenal at trial: he could claim that the victims were motivated by potential monetary gain. This seems to me to be a better explanation than the ‘uncertainty about who’s in charge’ explanation.

      1. Bob

        Yeah but Acosta was required by Federal law to contact the victims.
        He did not do so. This was noted by a Federal judge.
        This appears to be a Felony.
        Felonies in Florida can be grounds for disbarment.

        It makes no difference if Epstein was balking or if the victims were after the cash. Or if it was better to sign of a Friday or any other day of the week.

        Acosta violated Federal law.

      2. Stephen Gardner

        I can’t imagine why Epstein would have balked at such a sweetheart deal. NPAs for his powerful friends, that’s where the skeletons are.

      3. Oregoncharles

        The initial reporting I saw was precisely the opposite – that the deal made it harder for the victims to sue, and that’s why they were so furious. But I don’t remember where I saw that.

        Not much to do with the reporting around his death, but significant back at the beginning.

  5. Steve H.

    > attention to the caliber of the information behind what the press has reported and where there are gaps

    It’s been too long to remember when Epstein first popped up on my radar, but his Bill Clinton connection is what resonated. (I’ve hated Bill since he tried to eviscerate the EPA three months before I got my environmental science degree.) Three notes on reporting:

    : I first saw the link with Epstein, Wexner, and Mossad on a video by Anonymous, but did not repost it here based on the journalistic standards Yves demanded. The video was excellent on the facts I knew, with no false accusations. The Wexner & Maxwell linkage to Mossad snapped the whole story into focus. However. I still haven’t seen any source more reliable than MintPress on this, but NC is my filter so I’m not looking hard.

    : James Patterson wrote a book on Epstein, published in 2017, that mysteriously left the well-documented Clinton rides on the Lolita Express out. In 2018 Patterson published a book co-authored with Clinton. Follow the money.

    : That Ghislaine is Robert Maxwell’s daughter looks like it’s being scrubbed thus far. We shall see.

    :: Addendum: mea culpa, in a previous comment I said Marvin Minsky was at Harvard. In fact, he was employed by MIT.

    1. dearieme

      he was employed by MIT

      Naturally Harvard would have a large role in this but it’s disappointing that MIT might be polluted with it too.

        1. Steve H.

          “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.”

          Elizabeth Warren, reporting what former Harvard President Larry Summers told her.

          There’s a reason the name wasn’t sullied. This is the curtain being pulled back.

          1. John Lambert

            Harvard has refused to return the millions Epstein gave them. His connection with Harvard are deep even if they mostly predate his 2006 accusations. Still I cant remember where it was I first read of Clinton’s connection to the Lolita Express. I think it was a book on his pardons and other last end of office actions, but I cant recall when the book was published.

        2. lordkoos

          It’s been sullied by Harvard’s connection to Epstein.

          “Epstein donated millions to the University. He funded the construction of a campus building. He cultivated cozy friendships with top Harvard brass including a former University president. And he forged close personal and professional ties to Alan M. Dershowitz.”

          And then there is this –

          “Professor Ron Sullivan was stripped of a residential deanship by Harvard for agreeing to represent Harvey Weinstein, but they’re keeping Epstein’s money.”

            1. John Lambert

              Why are there not more details on Mark Epstein? Why does he lack a Wikipedia article. For that matter why does Jeffrey Epstein’s article not better cover his roles at places like the university he was on the board of?

        3. FKorning

          – “I’m not an alumni, but when has Harvard’s name ever been sullied?”

          uhm. What about in Larry Summers being named, or was that sarcasm?

    2. Steve H.

      > That Ghislaine is Robert Maxwell’s daughter looks like it’s being scrubbed thus far. We shall see.

      The Rolling Stone story in today’s Links pops that cork. Rolling Stone ain’t MintPress.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I read she turned evidence, which if correct means she got immunity. But she could be sued along with the Epstein’s estate for having procured for him.

    3. False Solace

      Other commenters have chimed in with links to “reputable” reporting on the story. There are some podcasts that seem to be aggregating this reporting, both in the podcasts proper and their related Twitter accounts. TrueAnon is the main one I’m aware of that seems to be following the Epstein story in a verifiable way — they may speculate occasionally but it’s based on fact. QAnon Anonymous has also done an Epstein episode and seems to be pretty good. I’m not an expert on this story but the podcasts I listened to seemed reasonable. There are many other “news” sources that engage in total imagination and delusion (possibly intentional?) so it’s good to listen with a peaked ear.

  6. AdrianD.

    If you want an indication of how the reporting of the Epstein alleged suicide will develop over the coming months then look no further than the ‘reporting’ of the alleged Salisbury Skripal nerve agent poisoning.

    Government & Metropolitan Police timelines changed quietly and then disappeared with no press comment, local knowledge is ignored, CCTV present but never shown, medical processes never queried, let alone explained. New ‘evidence’ that contradicts previous statements by Theresa May & Boris Johnson is reported without reference to their previous assertions to Parliament (misleading the House used to be a big thing over here).

    We’ve already had the ‘coincidence’ of the broken camera in New York, but it’ll take a little more for this case to trump the Skripal one where the nurse who just happend to be passing turned out months later to be not just a nurse, but an army nurse, and not just any army nurse, but the most senior nurse in the whole of the UK armed forces. What fun.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a post on critical thinking and you are contributing to the problem. One of the points of bothering to put up this post was to encourage readers to be exacting about information and sourcing.

      The camera was not “broken” per the NY Post article that first reported that there was no video of his death. Epstein was in a cell where the cameras were not set up to record inside the cell:

      Although there are cameras in the 9 South wing where the convicted pedophile was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, they are trained on the areas outside the cells and not inside, according to sources familiar with the setup there.

      1. AdrianD.

        Quite right Yves! I stand corrected and happy to be so. I should have checked my sources and not relied on the impression from a series of early reports.

        My point stands regarding how this is likely to develop though – it’s been amazing from here in the UK just how compliant our media has been in accepting, purveying and then defending the accepted (ie. Government) Skripal narrative (about which I am very much better informed).

        I hope you continue to cover the Epstiein case (even just in Links & WaterCooler) as I fear that there are all too few ready to offer your (and your commentors) level of informed analysis.

      2. WJ

        “according to sources familiar with the setup there..”

        Even this is weird! What sources?! And why must they go unnamed?! In what possible world is the objective and easily verified layout of a federal penitentiary something that must be discussed in hushed tones?!

        Anyway, it does not make any sense to me that monitoring cameras within a federal penitentiary would not be able to record any activity within the cells but only in the hallway outside them, but what do I know? I am perfectly willing to be instructed otherwise by somebody who knows and understands this practice. But that is precisely what is *not* happening.

        1. Procopius

          All the jails and penitentiaries and concentration camps in America are criminally underfunded. After all, these are places of punishment, so making life tolerable for the inmates is not a priority, even though many inmates have not been convicted and some are probably innocent. It’s been widely reported for years that these places are understaffed with underqualified people who are underpaid and overworked. Sorry not to provide links, but I’ve seen articles in all sorts of media, from Rolling Stone to Time Magazine to The American Conservative. This is not a Trump thing, by the way, it’s been reported on since I was a kid (i.e., a very long time). Still, I did see one report that quoted a former warden of the super-Max prison in Colorado saying if Epstein had been his prisoner he would have taken extraordinary precautions because of his notoriety and celebrity, just to “cover my own ass.” This seems merely prudent, because of the very large number of predictions that Epstein would never leave prison alive. Why don’t we see that being commented on, either?

  7. Lee

    It doesn’t take a ligature of great strength or the pressure on the neck of one’s full body weight to cause death by carotid artery compression. This method has the added advantage of being less painful and, if done properly, less likely to induce panic associated with airway blockage. Don’t try this at home, kids.

    From Wikipedia:

    Ligature strangulation specifications
    Minimal pressure :

    3.2 to 5 kg[1][2]( or 6 kg[3] or 10 kg[4]) necessary for closing the carotid arteries;
    2 kg necessary for closing the jugular veins;
    15 kg necessary for the compression of the airway: this is painful.
    “What this means, practically speaking, is that someone who wants – or wants to avoid – a lethal result should be aware that full suspension is quite unnecessary. Death will occur after only a few pounds of pressure on a neck ligature; a sitting or semi-reclining position is sufficient.” — excerpt from Geo Stone’s book.

    Even so, the whiff of rat is strong in this one.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The claim by the former MCC inmate at the top of the post is that the standard issue sheets in his cell would not take Epstein’s body weight, that they’d tear.

      1. polecat

        Paper sheets can be tightly twisted, and thus take on more weight than it otherwise might .. but I don’t know if such testing is done in the case of prison paper ‘bed’-sheets. Perhaps Jeffery was inrolled in an impromptu ‘test case’ …

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          If you did that, you’d be unlikely to have the needed length to secure one end and create a noose. Twisting shortens length. The source was specific as to how flimsy the sheets were. In regular cells, presumably the flimsiness is to prevent use in escape and in strangling or hog-tying a guard. It presumably would take a lot of twisting to get any tensile strength.

  8. dearieme

    Epstein was in a cell where the cameras were not set up to record inside the cell

    Then we must ask whether there were cells elsewhere in the jail where there were cameras to keep an eye on the inmates. If so, why was he not assigned to such a cell?

      1. pretzelattack

        purportedly, anyway. didn’t he say he had been assaulted? all the more reason to have cameras on the cell itself.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          He had been in a cell with a dirty cop. That was when he was found unconscious.

          You would think it would be hard to hang yourself with someone else present without him going along with the process.

          The lack of reporting on that incident is par for the course, since that would provide more insight into what might have happened.

  9. milesc

    The Times included a few paragraphs in its coverage under the heading, “Is it even him? Suicide sceptics smell a rat”, with a small picture highlighting rather obvious differences between the face of the dead person wheeled out of hospital and Epstein’s face (notably the shape of the nose and the helix of the left ear).

    Unfortunately, the paragraphs themselves contained no discussion whatsoever on the “Is it even him?” question, or the differences highlighted in the picture. No attempt to explain. No coroner or other medical expert consulted. Nothing.

  10. Bugs Bunny

    1. There was a graphic of Epstein’s prison cell that ran in earlier stories before his death but seems to not have been in the media since, except for this story today:

    The MCC cell looks pretty much the same as the cell that El Chapo was held in when he was there:

    So I would think (though no reporter has said it) that there must be a way to confirm how a suicide could be carried out in this kind of cell. But why isn’t any reporter going to the MCC SHU to see an empty cell similar to the one Epstein was in? Wouldn’t this be the first thing a decent journo would think of? It would sure help sort some things out.

    2. CBS News ran a story that mentioned “shrieking and shouting” coming from Epstein’s cell but didn’t tie it to the guards who “attempted to revive him”

    The Daily Mail reports that it was the guards themselves who were shrieking and shouting:

    This could be good reporting by the Mail or perhaps a game of telephone.

    3. The Mail also has drone footage of Epstein’s “private island”, which seems like some real reporting (but it’s still the Daily Mail):

    It looks like the buildings might have been connected by tunnels but that’s just my hypothesis from the small building cropping out from the side of a hill.

    Perhaps enough details will come out for one coherent explanation to appear.

    1. Buttinsky

      But the Post story reported that Epstein hung himself from a bunk bed — which is definitely not what appears in the diagrams of cells offered in the Daily Mail and El Chapo stories. And since he had a cellmate at one point (presumably in the same cell), a bunk bed would make sense.

      Again, just a fuzzy detail that someone needs to resolve?

    2. FKorning

      I’m no behavioural linguist, but “Breathe, Epstein, Breathe” sounds horribly affected and manufactured. In any case, I know this article focuses on the death and that establishing the facts here are important, but we can’t let that detract from the bigger evil of sex-slavery and peddling. The issue cannot be about Epstein’s death, however fishy that may be. The greater evil is what led to it.

  11. Brooklin Bridge

    The paucity of facts, the quality of reporting, the consistency of that (lack of) quality, the credulity required in some of the “official” explanations/reports such as that one of the most high profile sex offender cases ever brought to to trial was handled with the principal charged offender un-monitored due to under funding and sleepy guards, or the well established fact (beyond the ability of the media to obscure) that this case involved other very highly placed and powerful individuals who potentially stood to be utterly ruined if not imprisoned themselves by the ensuing discovery and inescapably highly public scrutiny the case would generate; this indicates to me that, at the very least, there is a high degree of doubt that the official story of suicide is factual, or for that matter, that anything one hears from the main stream media is factual except by accident, incompetence, or the fact that even the time tested over generations and highly conditioned American manufactured ideologically based credulity actually does have limits, so for instance, they can’t easily say that Martians came down and hypnotized the guards.

    1. WJ

      “they can’t easily say that Martians came down and hypnotized the guards.”

      But they can say that Russians did.

      Excellent comment.

    2. Pym of Nantucket

      In this comment I’m proposing that finding the truth in stories like this is next to impossible.

      There are enough well documented large coverups or successful media disinformation blitzes run by our “democratic” governments in the past (Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq) and other consensus stories which barely hold water in their ludicrousness but still aren’t publicly debunked, to give suspicious people ample reason to question events like this. If we’re looking for a kind of 95% confidence interval to determine if something is fact or fiction, we run into grave difficulty when there is a mixture of irresponsible and malicious actors contributing confounding information to the mix.

      The use of the term “conspiracy theory” which really took off during the justified questioning of the JFK assassination is now a red flag for a lot of people that they are on to something and should keep questioning. The publication blackout in scientific journals around the WTC7 collapse is just more reason to question if there is any chance the public can know what is happening when the stakes are this high. From my armchair, I’m gathering information using the internet, of all things. Am I serious in thinking I stand a chance of encountering the truth on a single event?

      My experience in Board Rooms and in Management have also shown me that the publicly disclosed version of events, even in things of much much less consequence, can be quite different than what evidence available closer to events indicates. I’ve bumped into many instances where a single bit of suppressed information (usually because of confidentiality, or rules around access to information) would hugely change the perception of an event, and the rest of the world goes on treating the agreed-upon narrative because that’s all they have.

      In many scientific efforts, the entire world or the majority have an interest in discovering what we deem to be the truth, so we make progress. When we use that as a standard, hoping we can use a scientific facts based approach to other things with the same success rate, we seem perplexed by our inability to get to the bottom of things. I think we might be deluded about how powerful bias, irrational belief and self interest of bad actors make finding the truth in some things almost impossible.

      A more reliable version of the truth in many issues may be available when the forces which are at work muddying the waters are gone. For the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, that took 50 years. I’m sure there are many events for which critical information is gone forever.

  12. Sam Adams

    The Implementation of procedure for attorneys seeing their clients and over worked staff was so lax for years such that it wouldn’t be very difficult to smuggle in something to off Epstein, for the right price. I guess that the price was right with a deep pocket able to front the offshore cash.

  13. YY

    Am I correct, or have I not been paying attention, of the result of the initial possible suicide incident, in that it has not become publicly clear as to whether it was indeed attempted suicide or whether there was an attack of sorts. Was there any resolution to the found in fetal position with marks on neck bizzo as to what actually transpired? It is kind of important that this first incident which should have been easy to clarify (since the now deceased was alive enough to present his take on the matter) would naturally point to how the final death event may have occurred. Real mystery is that the first incident would have required a more serious and prolonged effort to protect the deceased from either killing self or being snuffed out. And it should have been clear as to what event one would have to prevent. Instead we get this total BS situation. This is pretty typical and we are so used to having poor stories of events that do not resolve and then are overtaken by subsequent events that are also unconvincing as to clarity.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      I was thinking the same thing. That initial report of Epstein’s injury/suicide attempt included language like “nearly unconscious,” “curled in a fetal position” and “bruising around the neck” — all fairly alarming descriptions. And yet after reports that Epstein had been whisked off to the hospital for treatment/ observation, the story just dropped off the radar completely. I may have missed it, but I don’t remember seeing any kind of offical explanation about what had actually happened. Weird.

      1. ambrit

        An attack of true gospel “Tinn Hatt Thinkin” here.
        Could a body double of Epstein have been brought back to the cell from the prison hospital after the first “suicide” attempt and the real Epstein spirited away days before? The shrieking heard emanating from the cell later could have been the body double resisting the double cross perpetrated upon him.
        Have we had an autopsy yet? It should have happened hours after the death so as to preserve as much biological evidence as possible. So, where is the autopsy information? I don’t know the legal rules controlling autopsy reports, so I do not know how long the ‘officials’ can wait before releasing the information. Second, who gets the body? Will it be buried intact or cremated?
        Epstein is Jewish of Jewish parents. Doesn’t the Hebrew law that bodies must be buried within a day or so apply? I would be seriously interested about who sat Kaddish for this man.

        1. Tim

          There was a joke in the Yahoo Comments I want to re-post:

          “While the coroner was out at lunch, Epstein cremated himself.”

  14. GERMO

    In addition to the bigtime official press conference that hasn’t happened, we are also missing the usual “I’m looking forward to clearing my name” schtick — considering the abominable accusations against Ghislane Maxwell (and others too). That Maxwell is still hiding out is just weird — unless the situation is something other than the Nothing Fishy Here narrative being pushed in the MSM. She’s issued denials of course but the whereabouts-unknown act is something strange. Hard to imagine she’s going to ever appear, frankly. Very little responsible reporting on Maxwell since Epstein’s death, I think.

    A simple explanation for the behavior of the press regarding the Epstein case is that modern mass media very much don’t want to rock the plutocrat boat. Certainly they’ve been steadily ridding themselves of any effective boat-rocking talent we grew up associating with the investigative reporting of yore.

    1. WJ

      I believe there is a Telegraph or Daily Mail story on her in which it is hypothesized–I am not kidding–that she is on a submarine somewhere. Being an obtuse American, I could not tell if the author was joking.

      Maxwell herself is a licensed private helicopter pilot and a “deep water submarine pilot,” which is totally normal and par for the course among wealthy international socialite women.

      1. Francine McKenna

        The same could be said, then, about Jeff Bezos new girlfriend, also a TV host cum helicopter pilot.

          1. ambrit

            Those expecting trouble generally do. One of my Uncles used to live in Port Elizabeth in the old South Africa. He had a medium length sailboat down at the marina prepared for leaving at a minutes notice. Conditions in South Africa became so bad for his class of people after the hand over, per Matthew 20:16, that he eventually sold out and moved his family to New Zealand.
            He once told Mum, his sister, in a telephone conversation that he didn’t worry about the Africaans “up on their tableland,” because they always stuck together. He, being English was viewed by the Africaans as an interloper. Thus, he figured that he and his family were on their own if ‘things’ fell apart.
            There you see the opportunity for the “lower orders;” inter elites power struggles.
            I’m wondering if the experiences of Great Grandad and Grandmom during the chaos of the 1930’s and 1940’s has shaped the present day’s true socio-financial elite’s attitudes. Or, perhaps I’m overthinking this and that group really is just a bunch of narcissistic wankers.

  15. Carolinian

    It’s rather amusing for the NYT to get on their high horse about conspiracy theories when they’ve been pushing the idea that the president is a Russian mole for the past two years. Cronkite–not necessarily a perfect figure himself–got it right when he said the only thing a news organization has to sell is credibility. When they start knowingly or carelessly telling lies then why should the public believe any of it?

    Ironically in this case the official story may be correct. It is plausible that he could have strangled himself with a twisted bed sheet attached to an upper bunk frame, that the guards were asleep etc. That doesn’t mean that the prison authorities weren’t being deliberately careless or that there’s not a lot more to the story (he may have been told he would be killed if he didn’t do it himself). Whatever the facts are here’s doubting we’ll be reading them in the NY Times.

  16. pjay

    I know many here will not consider Paul Craig Roberts helpful in contributing to critical thinking on the Epstein case. But like Tucker Carlson, he has sometimes been a voice in the wilderness on key issues over the last few years, and his post on Epstein the other day was a good one. In particular, this comment caught my eye:

    “James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counter-intelligence, once told me that when the CIA pulls off something, it muddies the waters by placing different and conflicting stories in the media. The result, he said, is that there is too much to investigate, and people end up arguing with one another over which story is correct, and the facts of the event are never investigated. Today with the Internet all sorts of stories can be put into play in order to cover an event in confusion.”

    I thought about this yesterday when the the story about some unnamed someone hearing “shrieking” from Epstein’s cell was reported — by CBS! And no apparent followup? There will be misinformation (by goofballs) and disinformation (by interested parties) galore in this case, as in all such cases, to keep us arguing amongst ourselves. Sourcing is crucial in trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. But as we all know, it is hard to trust “official” sources today.

    1. prodigalson

      Of course why an advanced society continues to allow an organization to exist whose sole purpose is to intentionally muddy the waters for what constitutes reality is something of a puzzle in and of itself. That’s rather like building an advanced nuclear reactor with the best and most up to date safety features and redundancies but also building an easily accessible big red button labeled “ blow up the plant and kill everyone in the tri-state area.” Outside of God we seem fairly bent on self-annihilation.

    2. Susan the other`

      One thing I noticed: in a photo, which could have been photo shopped, of Jeffie’s mansion on Orgy Island, we see a big square building painted in broad sky blue and white stripes, reminiscent of the flag of Israel, and the building is square like a synagog/temple and it has a gilded dome on top. That was a bit much. The next image I saw of his mansion on Orgy Island was of a large bunker-esque stone building – no paint and no dome. Instant food for thought. The info on Epstein has been manipulated beyond belief, I’m sure.

      1. lordkoos

        One interesting thing I read was that Epstein’s operation had it’s own radio tower on the island, so that communication by radio could be very secure within a private system.

          1. todde

            This kind of microwave link would provide high-speed internet access, which is something Epstein might have wanted for video conferencing, real-time asset trading, etc.

            and porn, of course

  17. Bobby Gladd

    Interesting post, thanks. Tweeted it. I have a MEGO reaction to this stuff–tsunamis of “Occam’s Meat Axe” “logic.”

    AG Barr was “outraged” and has ordered an “investigation.”

    Bless his little heart.

    Fear not: NYTimes Court Composer Haberman will soon fill in the blanks.

    1. lordkoos

      Once an investigation is begun, isn’t it then customary for all of the known evidence to be sealed until it is finished? Seems like a good way to help keep the lid on things.

  18. toshiro_mifune

    It’s ironic to hear the FBI whinge about conspiracy theories as a danger to public safety, yet see the officialdom, and even the press, handle the untimely death of Jeffrey Epstein in a manner almost guaranteed to maximize salacious interest and speculation.

    Hear, hear. At the very least I’d like to see some follow-up from someone in the press with Acosta regarding the “owned by intelligence” statement. Did he actually say that? If yes, what did he mean? Questions would obviously follow from there if we get an affirmative for the first and clarification on the second.

    1. Katniss Everdeen


      The plea deal was signed in June, 2008. The attorney general, acosta’s boss, who surely had to be aware of if not approve the deal, was Alberto Gonzalez. W. was president.

      What does Gonzalez have to say about this sweetheart “deal?”

      Six months later, a new sheriff, obama, came to town, and eric holder came with him. epstein would have been serving his “sentence” at the time.

      Did the new democrat attorney general have any thoughts on letting a pedophile skate while hiding it from the victims?

      1. John Lambert

        Since it was a state sentence Washington issues might not be in play. Also how closely does the AG monitor actions of the hundred plus US attorneys? The attorney general has a huge responsibility. I am less than convinced sex trafficking charges ago to the top. We need to go through the layers more closely.

    2. urblintz

      I’d like to see some follow-up from someone in the press with Acosta regarding the “owned by intelligence” statement. Did he actually say that? If yes, what did he mean? Questions would obviously follow from there if we get an affirmative for the first and clarification on the second.

      “These are not the affirmatives you are looking for…” [waves hand, recovers head with urban camouflage/jedi hood]

    3. WJ

      That statement is going to be forgotten and in five years may as well never have been uttered. All for the sake of IngSoc.

  19. CloverBee

    NPR pushing the official line that conspiracy theories are for whack a doodles.

    He could have been given the tools to hang himself by his lawyer, and easily convinced to do so. Certainly this is the most convenient outcome for the powerful people with whom he associated. I don’t think it really matters if he was murdered or committed suicide. What matters is that we get to watch the powerful people he associated wriggle like worms on hooks at the evidence.

    My concern is that the press should be clamoring for the intense follow-up investigation like they cover a white girl with a black boyfriend going missing (24/7 with frequent press conferences). Instead we find them whining about conspiracy theorists being skeptical of the official narratives.

    1. John Lambert

      Why has Ghislane Maxwell been free for over a month after Epstein was arrested? Why has no one else been charged? Why are people conspiracy theorists when the autopsy is not done instead of the press pointing out a lack of autopsy means we lack an official report. Why are sleeping prison guards not a bigger issue?

  20. The Rev Kev

    About four years ago when the Panama Papers were first coming out – those that did get released – I found it noteworthy that the media plastered the picture of the one person that appeared nowhere in those papers – Vladimir Putin. I am seeing the same with Trump here with the way that Epstein is constantly hung around his neck. As bad as Trump is, about 15 years ago when he found that Epstein was making moves on an underage girl at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump had him thrown out on his a**. That is why in the constant films and photos that you see of Trump and Epstein together on the news, that they are much younger versions of themselves. Sure they mention Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton but then they get right back to Trump. Trump actually called the press out in an interview on an airport tarmac when he said that Bill said that he went on the Lollita Express four times when it was more like twenty-seven times. But the media is not pressing this issue. By logical extension then, we are getting truth about all this from Trump instead of the actual press which is an awful condemnation of the modern media.
    I cannot help but think that there is going to be serious blowback from this incident so here goes with another of my ratbag theories. At this stage, Epstein’s death is probably what it looks like – an establishment hit job. Considering that he may have been the most important prisoner on the continental United States, the very long sequences of failures that allowed his death is noteworthy. But here is the thing. There has been a catastrophic failure on the part of the main stream media to delve into what happened. No interviews, graphics of what his cell looked like, no timeline of events – zip. Even Trump was trashed by the media for suggesting that the whole business was – off. And people are noticing this as it is so blatant and how people that suggest otherwise are being labeled as conspiracy theorists. So, what happens next year when the MSM give their usual coverage of the election and nobody is really listening to them anymore because they do not trust them based on what they are doing now – or are not doing. We experienced this in 2016 but I think that next year that it will be more across the whole board this mistrust.

    1. @pe

      We know that Trump knew what Epstein was up to, to a first approximation from his statement and the fact that they were business buddies/competitors, which would naturally require a background check. In fact, many of the girls were coming from Mar-a-Lago.

      We know that none of this material became of value to Trump including the “assaulted a girl” issue until they started competing in an auction for a property. We also know from the Miami Herald that Epstein claimed that it was Trump who was motivating the investigation against him that started during auction.

      So, we do not know whether Trump diddled or not children. But we can be confident that Trump had sufficient information to know what Epstein did, and a strong suspicion that he had sufficient evidence to heavily interfere with it — and *chose* not to, unless it was purely in his self-interest.

      None of this makes Trump unique. We know the same about many other players. We have an entire social class which is proven to be unworthy of power even under the most minimal threshold. But we don’t need to determine who was a “pervert” and who was merely an “enabler” of perverts (except as judicial cases).

      In terms of being legitimate users of power, belonging to this social group is enough for us to not respect them as valid holders of social influence: Trump, the Clintons, the Pinkers etc, and so on and so forth — they’ve all proven themselves to be amoral and untrustworthy, regardless of what particular perversions they are personally guilty of.

      Yes, it is being used cynically as an attack on Trump — but it *should be* used that way; he placed the weapon there. Just as regardless of whether Bill went on 4 flights or 26 on the Lolita Express, we can safely assume he did or should have done basic due diligence in investigating one of his seed funders for the Initiative who was an obvious security risk, and thus he must have known what Epstein was up to, but couldn’t care less about consequences on useless people (useless to him personally).

      Likewise for Ehud Barak. Prince Andrew. And on and on. Ken Starr and Dershowitz. It’s an amazing circle of open secrets, and everyone who was in that circle is sufficiently guilty without us ever having to prove a single positive criminal act by them, to forever eliminate them from “minimally decent human being”. They are co-conspirators by omission.

      The only conclusions are either 1) that these people are completely socially incompetent or 2) that they in fact had information and capacity to act and refused. #1 is absurd on the face of it, thus we conclude #2. Any other choices, since all the evidence points to JE being flagrant about his behavior?

      1. elissa3

        There could be a #3: absolute megalomania. There are those on this planet so wholly drunk with their power and self-being, that they are not even oblivious to what the world at large considers. That world–the reality that you and I live in–simply does not exist for such people.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Make stuff up much? Trump and Epstein were not “business buddies/competitors”. Moreover, Epstein sought to cultivate the glitterati and the elites when Trump preferred poking a stick in their eyes. New York Magazine was making fun of Trump starting in the 1980 for decorating with lots of gold and dating/marrying swimsuit models rather than doing what a rich New Yorker was supposed to do, donate to the right charities and hire the right decorators.

        Trump’s remarks in the early 2000s about Epstein liking to date pretty women and having an appetite for young ones came off like a wink and nod that he was onto what Epstein was up to but wasn’t about to spell it out in enough detail for it to rise to the level of being an accusation

        1. @pe

          Nope, not making stuff up:

          Epstein apparently approached Trump asking advice on the Gosman auction — that’s “a business buddy” — and Trump ran with the deal — that’s a competitor. Epstein sourced girls from Mar-a-lago (Virginia Roberts).

          The Vanity Fair material is extensive — and really the depth of connections and common knowledge is breath-taking.

          Epstein had a lot of business buddies/competitors, but I’d figure this was special: they were both West Palm Beach freaks, even if one was a vulgar freak and the other one a fancy freak. It’s clear from Trump’s comment that he was a bit jealous of JE.

          Paragraph #2 was precisely what I was saying — and gives us enough to deduce (like socially competent people who don’t need legally actionable data to judge socially) that Trump was able to figure out what he was seeing at the calender girl events, did hear the rumors, did make the background checks, but was completely uninterested in using this until it was to his advantage in the Gosner auction, as per JE.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Asking business advice of a social friend does NOT make someone a “business buddy”. A “business buddy” is a partner or someone with a commercial relationship who is also a social friend.

            The fact that Trump end ran Epstein on the Gosman deal is consistent with not having a meaningful commercial relationship. You don’t screw people you do business (or even social contacts unless you think they really need you, like you are a big donor to their pet charity and have to swallow your BS) with unless your intent is to end the relationship.

            As to the partying, this is consistent with my depiction above that it tailed off in the early 2000s. And the story depicts a third party getting hot “models” for a 1992 party, not Epstein procuring for Trump.

            Levin has also not disproven the claim that Trump threw Epstein out of Mar-a-Lago in 2005 for hitting on an underaged woman at a party. She’s given a reason that Epstein would have broken of relations with Trump, not the reverse. What kind of reporting is a statement like this: ” We can only assume Trump called to gloat over “low-energy” Epstein for losing the deal, and not to warn him to stay away from underage girls.” That is an unfounded insinuation, made particularly powerful by its placement at the end of the piece. I’m not a Trump fan, but this is just crap.

            Epstein started grooming and procuring younger girls as he got older. And as Ilargi pointed out, the only time Trump has been established to have been on an Epstein jet is a single flight from Florida to Newark. Mark Epstein is not a reliable source; Gretchen Morgenson’s article this morning documents that most of his claims are demonstrably false via comparison with public documents. Unlike most people, Trump has a bigger and better jet than Epstein’s (757 v. a 727, although a 727 is admittedly quite a jet to have as a private jet), so Trump wouldn’t need to hitch a ride with Epstein to fly private class.

            And to be crass, Trump has always liked women with big boobs. The underaged girls that Epstein was procuring were not 14 year olds that looked 18. They looked 14.

      3. John Lambert

        Trump said that Epstein liked his women young. But Epstein was over 50 at that time so that covers 20 year olds as well as 16 year olds. The problem with much of the rhetoric is that most child sex crimes do not involve 10 year olds. They involve 15 year olds who if they are prancing around in makeup, bikinis, pushup bras and such are hard to not see as 19 year olds. The problem is that in this situation no one questioned the power exploitation of multimillionaire Epstein having sex with girls as long as they could convince themselves these were nubile 18 year olds and not underage. Blame huge amounts of Hollywood for this problem.

    2. emorejahongkong

      >what happens next year when the MSM give their usual coverage of the election and nobody is really listening to them anymore

      What happens is: any establishment-linked Democratic nominee will be very vulnerable to being beaten by Trump, because many swing voters will do one or both of the following:

      1. Not believe the MSM’s descriptions of Trump’s bad acts, and/or

      2. Decide that any candidate linked to the establishment (and to the known scandals like Epstein’s establishment cozyness, and the many other covered-up scandals that are implied by the Epstein cover-ups) is less acceptable than even the worst confessed pussy-grabber who has the saving grace of undermining establishment solidarity.

    3. FK

      I have no doubt Trump is a pig, but his demonstrated preference is for pulpy vixens with strong slavic cheekbones, not baby faced lolitas. Mind you spousal preference doesn’t necessarily exclude other private proclivities. The thing is, postulating about associations and other possible pedophiles is a secondary process. The first process is going after Epstein’s crimes and uncovering facts. It’s through that process that secondary discovery will be made. We need to start from the start and work our way through the evidence.

    4. John Lambert

      The Trump Mar-a-lago Epstein issue is so far second d hand testimony. If Trump did that why is he not more open. What happened? Here we need details, like specific details. Was Epstein a 52 year old showing interest in a 16 year old just seen as wrong, or did Epstein do more than leer? Were Epstein’s actions criminal or just inappropriate. Why do we only have this as second hand hearsay from a lawyer. Also why is it so low covered that we do not know if the girl was an employee or the child of a club member or what. Was this a time when Epstein’s wex drive caused him to misstep and go after a rich girl instead of a poor one? Or was Trump employing teenaged girls in positions to wear questionable clothes? Is ever institution that allows teenaged girls to wear swim suits on the job threatened with sex trafficking charges? Do we want to require city pools to only have 18+ life guards. Is a 52 year old leering at an 18 year old any better than if the girl is 17.

  21. Grayce

    Maybe there is background connection with the death of Robin Williams. Williams was found, apparently at door knob level, and some theories identify the strangulation as a sex practice. If Epstein was compulsive in his sex needs, might he have been in a similar situation? That inquiry would take a different team of experts. Has the press speculated or investigated?

  22. rrennel

    I’ve followed the Epstein story since Julie K. Brown wrote the terrific investigative report “Perversion of Justice” in the Miami Herald in November 2018 so I can’t help but comment on this post. At the time, I felt compelled to write an essay (never published) on sex crimes and big law ethics because I was appalled by her description of the extent of Epstein’s crimes and abuse and the sweetheart deal (non-prosecute agreement) approved by Alex Acosta. I wrote:
    “Reports of Epstein’s illicit sexual exploits date back at least to 2005, when the local police raided his Palm Beach mansion after a 14-year-old girl and her parents reported that she was molested by Epstein. Epstein’s alleged behavior – assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls to coerce into sex acts and trafficking minor girls on his personal jet (dubbed the Lolita Express) for sex parties at his homes in Palm Beach, Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean – surpass the allegations against such famed sex offenders as Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.
    The New York Post, the Daily Mail, numerous other publications and media sites have written dozens of salacious stories about Epstein over the years. Vanity Fair profiled him in a 2013 article The Talented Mr. Epstein and James Patterson co- wrote a non-fiction book, Filthy Rich: The Billionaire’s Sex Scandal–The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein, with investigative reporters John Connolly and Tim Malloy. In the pre-#MeToo era, many of these media reports focused on the sensational, while giving short shrift to the serious criminal aspect of Epstein’s behavior.”
    Were it not for Julie K. Brown, Epstein would almost certainly be alive today, traveling on the Lolita Express, while continuing to pal around with his plutocrat and horndog friends. Also, because someone at the SDNY thankfully paid attention to this reporting, my expectations from January – i.e. that “Epstein’s wealth and connections seem likely to insulate him from further prosecution” were wrong.
    So while I agree with Yves comments, it should be noted that notwithstanding the lack of critical thinking and heavy spin evidenced today, it is worth recalling that there are examples of exceptional journalism and Ms. Brown is a exemplar of the profession.

    1. John Lambert

      In the Barr confirmation hearing Sasse quoted Brown and got Barr to agree to have the DOJ look into it. Also apparently the law firm Barr worked for was higher by Epstein. It was a big law firm, which may tell us big law firms are a horrible idea

  23. doug

    Yes, what was that raid on the island about? this long a time after his arrest…
    Strange or coincidental timing…

    Possibly we will find out one day…

    Thanks for the tone of this article. Well done.

    1. Stephen Gardner

      I’m sure the FBI will exercise the same level of professionalism when doing the forensic examination of any computers it finds as it did for the DNC servers and Anthony Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Oh, wait! :-)

      I’m sure that the evidence will be examined with an eye toward protecting the right people and punishing anyone they need to squeeze.

      1. polecat

        THIS ! Your comment solidifies in stone how this country is doomed to dissolve. To a greater and significant degree, the public is finding true justice wanting, and thus, holds no trust in Government, at All levels.

        But hey … that’s just conspiracy theory talk .. right ?

  24. juliania

    The slow drip, drip, drip of information in a case that was, to say the least high profile reminds me of a comment I read once back in the day of the ‘disappeared’ tactics in South America. The comment was that it was not so much the apparent assassinations that were the regime’s targets but the fact that things were happening to people in a remorseless way in order to cow or coerce others into continuing to cooperate – whether it was the general population or in fact closer associates of the regime. ‘See what we can do? Watch out, or we will do it to you. We can do anything we want.’

    I haven’t been following this case, but that’s the impression I get. Those in the know are being warned.

  25. Frank Little

    In my experience dealing with state prison authorities when trying to get to the bottom of how someone died in prison, excuses like understaffing/underfunding are basically standard operating procedure. I’ve attended a few meetings of a public committee that is convened to discuss deaths in Wisconsin prisons as part of advocating for improvements in prisons there and when family members of loved ones have asked why more wasn’t done to prevent their death in prison the DOC officials almost always tell us it’s a matter of funding rather than bad actors, management, or general organizational culture.

    There was an article in the WSJ yesterday talking about problems in the Bureau of Prisons which I think is instructive:

    Within the government, the prisons bureau is known for its opaque decision-making, and even federal judges are constrained in their ability to order the agency to change a prisoner’s conditions of confinement or treatment behind bars, according to law-enforcement experts.

    “The BOP is its own fiefdom,” said David Patton, who has worked as a federal defender in New York for 18 years. “There is no outside enforcement mechanism to handle these issues. Truly, it’s insanity.”

    This is a good description of how most state prison systems in the US operate, at least in my experience. Problems in MCC do not at all rule out a larger conspiracy to kill Epstein. In fact, given what is known about staff usually being the conduit for contraband like drugs getting into prisons, it provokes more questions than it answers. Just last year a guard was arrested for smuggling drugs, money, cell phones, and food into the MCC.

    It’s unfortunate that abysmal conditions in US prisons are being used to dismiss questions about Epstein’s death, especially since barely anybody seems to care when poor and mostly anonymous people die in prison as a result of neglect, violence, or some combination of the two with no attention or fanfare.

    1. @pe

      Bad conditions make it cheap and easy to do whatever you want — incompetence is not a competitive explanation to conspiracy, but in fact is the conditions for conspiracy to be a reasonable explanation.

      Hanlon’s razor is intellectually void. Incompetence is the structural complement of conspiracy.

    2. Jeff N

      What if the prison management let him commit suicide just so they could request more funding? “See what happens when you underfund us?”

      1. Frank Little

        I’d say it’s more of a knee-jerk response to criticism on the BOP’s part to blame lack of funds or low-level employees. The recent bit about guards suspected of falsifying logs so they could sleep is pretty clever as a cover-up strategy if that’s what it is, since irregularities can be blamed on lazy low-level employees rather than any concerted effort to get someone in or out of his cell.

        It didn’t take long for the bit about guards deviating from the check-up schedule to make it into press reports even though now it appears those logs were falsified based on subsequent viewing of security footage, at least according to AP. It’s not surprising that there’s anonymous sources on something like this, but it would be good to know who knew the procedure wasn’t followed before it came out that the logs were falsified.

      2. The Rev Kev

        “See what happens when you underfund us?”

        Funny that you should say that. I saw a news story on TV last night that tried to blame trump for Epstein’s death because of some hiring freeze he did a long time ago, even though they admit that it ended months ago. Point was that it was all Trump’s fault because Trump.

    3. lordkoos

      If you wanted someone dead, wouldn’t prison be one of the easiest places to get away with murder? Easy to cover up or blame as an accident/suicide, and for the victim, nowhere to run.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      I was told by a former state prosecutor after this post went live that Federal prison staff are particularly vulnerable to pressure. Imagine you worked in the MCC. You live in the five boroughs. You could be transferred to any Federal pen, and most of them are in bumfuck nowhere. Or potentially worse, you could be sent to a supermax.

      1. Frank Little

        Thanks for your comment, Yves. I hadn’t thought of that dynamic with respect to Federal guards because I don’t think people in state prisons are transferred around as much and if they are it’s obviously still within the same state.

        Prisons are a perverse kind of economic development in the US, especially in bumfuck nowhere. Wisconsin built a ton of state prisons in small towns, some of whom used to be home to large companies only to find that now their largest employer is now the prison. This is one of the most under-discussed obstacles to dealing with mass incarceration imo.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          And let’s also not forget that the prisoners in those nowhere locations, often from urban areas elsewhere in the state, are counted as local residents, thus expanding the political power and funding of these largely Republican districts.

        2. John Lambert

          Well NIMBYism is a key to prison location. However when the prison is the biggest employer it creates issues.

  26. michael hudson

    I think that comedians are much more equipped to handle the scant information we have than the press.
    What’s needed is a mind-expansion exercise, and humor is the best way to achieve this.
    Almost any solution to the bizarre coincidences and mishaps will have to be speculative, so going whole-hog will stretch matters to the limits. (Already I have SNL routines going through my head. I love the false-rumor of some officials in grey coming into Epstein’s cell and whisking him away in a white van without a license plate; but then, who did they bring in? A look-alike? Did they test the DNA of the corpse in the morgue?)
    Anyway, that opens the way for the mind to run free — MANY versions that take the known facts into account, not just one!

    1. urblintz

      Voltaire suggested that “God is a comedian playing to an audience that is too afraid to laugh”

      I hope he was wrong and that you (as we’ve come to expect) are right!

  27. michael hudson

    What is needed is a scenario for the Deep State holding a Planning Session.
    — Let’s overwork the guards 5 days in a row so that they get very sleepy and won’t do the rounds.
    — Let’s spike their drink with a sleeping pill.
    — Have a Mission Impossible team come in and cover up the TV cameras with a fake scene replacing the foreign killers (or kidnappers, take your pick) coming in.

    The PLANNING session is the key!

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      POW POW!


      Seems to me we should be investigating all the people coming and going from that prison. Maybe local activists should have formed a Vigilante circle around the whole building until Sexteins day in court!!!

  28. Tom Stone

    For what it is worth ( Not much), I have spoken to about a dozen people about Epstein’s death.
    Not one of them believes Epstein committed suicide.
    I asked a wide range of people from small town mayors to Realtors to a commercial fisherman.

    I have insufficient information to make a judgement, however I do consider it more likely than not that Epstein was killed.
    My opinion is based on nothing more than 60 plus years of paying attention to how things really work, it was a mighty convenient death.

  29. Watt4Bob

    “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

    So now all the club members are looking for a new president to take over the many duties associated with ‘adult entertainment’ and related services.

    My take is the ‘club‘ has been in operation for centuries and its members have always relied on a fixer with connections broad and strong enough to keep them ‘safe,‘ from the prying eyes of the church, the law, and the public at large.

    Think Mr. Wolf from ‘Pulp Fiction’.

    Jeffery did a great job, but alas, men are apt to outgrow their britches and let their egos pollute their judgement, and Jeff was no exception, he started to think that he was as immune as his clientele, and that was a bad mistake.

    Epstein may well have been groomed for his job, and that would imply there are cadets being prepared, to take his job, his end being being one of their final lessons.

  30. Jim A.

    Keep in mind that the only real witnesses (two guards) are guilty of incompetence and fraud, even if not complicit in murder for hire. When you combine that with the reflexive “code of silence” around wrongdoing by law enforcement it is no surprise that facts are thin on the ground.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      See my comment above from a former state prosecutor about the staff at Federal prisons being particularly vulnerable to pressure. He’s not convinced that they weren’t acting on orders.

  31. David

    If you have been on the inside of a crisis that made it into the media you will have observed two things. The first is that initial reports are invariably incomplete, often fragmentary and often contradictory. It can take some time to work out what happened, and, even then, inconsistencies usually remain, because people recall events differently, especially under stress, and adjust their memories later based on what they have read and head. This is what enables journalists, even years later, to produce shock horror revelations in best-selling books.
    The other is that the media is largely unconcerned with truth. What they want is A Good Story, even if it contradicts the last one they printed. The media will usually seize on the most outrageous or sensational interpretation of events, and generally refuse to retract their story even when better information is available. This helps to create a febrile public mood in which conspiracy theories are circulated and recirculated until nobody can remember where they originated. They help to produce a public mood where conspiracies are so much taken for granted that people, as here, automatically accept them because they seem natural and anyway that film I saw last week was all about this CIA conspiracy.
    In this casé the sloppiness and lack if critical thought we’ve come to expect from the media was on full display, but there is another factor as well. If you look at some of the coverage in the blogosphere , you can see an internal struggle going on. Many sites and pundits would instinctively go for the conspiracy explanation but feel inhibited because Trump git there first. Expect a few nervous breakdowns in the days to come as they struggle with this contradiction.

  32. Whoamolly

    As I read the news now I am constantly reminding myself, “There is no journalism profession left in this country.”

    It sickens me to assume that I can no longer trust the NYT, or any other major media outlet.

    Instead of reporters, we have stenographers and clickbaiters. There are exceptions–people like Matt Taibbi and several others–but they are exceptions.

    I think the Epstein Affair is a tipping point, when large numbers of reasonable people are reaching the same conclusion.

      1. Whoamolly

        It costs about $200,000 tuition to get a journalism degree from a top ranked school. Add 4 years living expenses and the minimum entry cost for the profession is about $400,000 for a low wage job.

        Who can afford that? What class do they come from? And what priorities does someone with that debt load and class background have?

        Combine that with media consolidation and 3-4 corporate owned giants. You either work for one of the giant political parties or one of the giant corporations.

        In that environment a good looking, smart, CNN talking head thrives and a talent like Sy Hersh or Thomas Frank has to leave the country to get published.

    1. Acacia

      Current Affairs has run a series of articles on problems with the journalism of the NYT.

      After their support for wars in the Middle East, near constant reliance on unnamed official sources (the paper could be renamed “Officials said…”) and the revelation that they vet their stories with the intel agencies, I concluded it’s more of a PR office for the White House than a reliable news source.

      Critical thinking means we have to weigh many different sources of information, some more reliable than others, and actively exercise our own powers of judgement. Personally, I found the NYT ceased to stimulate my thinking in that way, and I removed them from my regular reading list years ago.

      Sometimes I check back, only to find the NYT writers suffering from Trump/Putin Derangement Syndrome or some other twentieth-century disease, long since wiped out by the alternative media. It’s been surprisingly easy to let go of them.

  33. flora

    One of the interesting coincidences in the timing makes me wonder if the Court’s unsealing 2000 pages of evidentiary documents that named names on August 9th cancelled out any assumed deadman’s switch Epstein was said to have. If the names and events were starting to come out through the Court….

    Documents released August 9th. Epstein supposedly commits suicide the either the night of August 9th or early in the morning Aug. 10th. Epstein’s death ended the criminal case against him. Only the civil cases can now go forward.

    I believe in coincidences, but the timing (less than 24 hours) is remarkable.
    It’s reasonable to ask if release of the documents mooted any deadman’s switch he may have had.

    1. flora

      adding: if Epstein was part of an intel agency blackmail ring, keeping the blackmailed under the control of whatever agency means keeping the blackmailing information hidden. If it all the information comes out then the threat is over and the control is over. (Looking at one possibility from a purely ‘business’ point of view. …)

  34. JL1965

    I’m wondering whether Trump and Barr now have all the blackmail material. (Was that the purpose of the island raid?)

    If so, what are they going to do with it? Just think of how much control they would have over other powerful people in the U.S. and all over the world.

    1. ambrit

      Then they would be carrying on in the tradition of J Edgar Hoover. Plenty of precedent for that. Throw a few insignificant people to the wolves and hoard the rest of the ‘evidence.’

  35. Eclair

    I am reminded of the case of the missing 18 1/2 minutes of tape, in the midst of a recorded telephone conversation between President Nixon and his henchman, John Haldeman. In 1973, during the Watergate Investigation, there was a remarkably similar aura of conspiracy theory, disbelief that this erasure had occurred so fortuitously, and a general hilarity over the official attempt to blame it on the ‘incompetence’ of Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who, allegedly, had acrobatically stretched to answer a telephone call and so hit the wrong button on the tape machine as she was transcribing the tapes. The ‘missing minutes’ occupied a disproportionate amount of media time and space for months.

    Which may be one of the reasons I knew nothing of the Chilean coup d’etat, September 11, 1973, that replaced Salvadore Allende with Augusto Pinochet. But, there I go again, with the conspiracy theories!

  36. richard

    Here’s another Consortium link: a writer who has spent time in federal lockup on suicide watch. Not too much new info provided, but does reinforce how this protocol makes suicide impossible, and how it was (no doubt purposefully) botched in Epstein’s case.

  37. dearieme

    I find many conspiracy theories laughable, including the conspiracy theory that there are no conspiracies.

    My eye is taken when a key actor is murdered. Thus Oswald was murdered by Ruby. A witness to the lives of the alleged Boston Bombers was murdered by the FBI. Seth Rich, who may perhaps have been the leaker of the DNC emails, was murdered by person or persons unknown, not necessarily in the employ of a leading Dem politician.

    So: have there been any other murders or disappearances recently that could be related to the Epstein business? For example, if Epstein was murdered will someone now have the murdered the murderers to shut them up? Might Ghislaine Maxwell have been murdered? Are the children and wives of the jail warders all present and accounted for?

  38. Anarcissie

    Mr. Epstein’s mode of demise seems too inconvenient for many of the Important People to have been planned and executed by competent professionals in their service. However, it might be an aspect of factional struggle already evident in the rise of Trump and the inability of the Established Order to prevent or abort it. Besides malice and incompetence, we may also have their synthesis.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      “…(the) factional struggle evident in the rise of Trump…”

      Thank you.

      One of the many purposes of Russiagate was to misdirect people away from the fact that Trump’s election represents (among other things) a huge split in the ruling class, which can roughly be described as one between extractive industries (energy, agriculture, mining, etc.) and finance, media and tech. A map of the 2016 election results strongly supports this analysis. Thus, Comcast was more than happy to give free reign to Rachel Maddow’s two+ years of disinfotainment…

      This split in the ruling class would provide an immense opportunity if the US had a real functioning Left, rather than lumpen bourgeois and childish virtue signalling about open borders and reparations.

      1. Anarcissie

        If you consider social democrat types to be Left — the ‘near Left’ — then they’ve made great progress during the reign of Trump. It is true they are nowhere near dominance as yet, but in any case the stuff the Deep State factions are struggling over, war, empire, funny money, and other con games, are inherently corrupt and corrupting, and formal dominance could only mean submission to the rules of the Game. Probably better to lose influentially; victory is death.

        In the case of Epstein, I was thinking not that he was a principal who had to be offed because he ‘knew too much‘, but was more like the racehorse whose head winds up in someone’s bed. Or hearing that someone has been given plutonium tea. ‘We can do this, sucker!’

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, DSA has grown rapidly, but their explicit call for Open Borders is politically juvenile and void, and I while I know nothing about any debates concerning Reparations (another political abortion waiting to happen), I assume the Wokesters are going full throttle.

          Additionally, in my little political backwater – union democracy in the United Federation of Teachers and the fight against corporate education reform/privatization – the ISO Trots who destroyed our group as an effective force, using rule or ruin tactics, have now all infested DSA. In my many years of observation and experience, that’s the kiss of death.

          Don’t be to too surprised if DSA shatters rapidly in the not-too-distant future, a la SDS (only at a sped-up pace).

          Without a vibrant and creative labor movement, there is no Left.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Yeah, I find this plausible.

      It’s almost like the authorities were laying the groundwork for ‘solving’ the Epstein problem, and someone decided, “he’s got to go….NOW” and failed to ‘suicide’ him a couple of weeks ago and decided to have another crack at it and got it done, this time.

      Now the establishment is scrambling to get into clean up mode and need to get their story straight. In the meantime, all these weird, confusing bits and pieces are coming out and it is hard to know what to believe, what’s just junk info, and what is an open attempt to gas-light us into thinking crazy stuff…..only so it can be ‘debunked’ later to help shore up credibility to the ‘official’ story.

      Obviously, with so few facts….we can only speculate….and have fun doing so!

      1. Mattski

        Not down with every bit of that (“following the Roman Empire step by step”), but think this could be fairly accurate:

        “The ‘traditionalist’ Neocons are going to have to decide to fish or cut bait: either swirl down the sewer by protecting everyone in Epstein’s black book and stash of videos, or clean house before they lose it all.”

        As important as anything else is the way the quote correctly describes what the Clintons and upper, corporate echelons of the Democratic Party have long since become. Also helps to explain how and why Hillary had reportedly become quite cozy with Bolton over time.

        If only the “liberal” community got it. At all.

        As I said down below, I think Trump and co. realize they could discredit the Dems for a long time to come. Could play into the hands of an emerging left as well as right, which they must ponder. Two things to watch meantime:

        1. How zealously Trump and co, as well as DeSantis, continue to pursue the facts and case.
        2. When and whether Bolton is removed as Trump adviser. There is always a chance that a wavering Trump (and he does nothing better than vacillate) decides to keep things just as they are.

    3. False Solace

      It seems clear that we’re witnessing a factional struggle play out among the elites. Epstein had been cooling his heels for years but was suddenly returned to the chessboard, weaponized for reasons unknown by persons unknown against other factions unknown. And subsequently removed from the board. I agree with the vast majority of Americans — it seems unlikely that a sadistic narcissist, a smug multimillionaire who got away with everything once already, who had many powerful friends, would fall into despair so quickly. It strains credulity to believe that a techno-fantasist who believed in cryo-preservation would decide to off himself in a way that made such techniques impossible. If we ever find out what actually happened it will be 50 years from now when the parties responsible are on their deathbeds.

      As for the lack of detailed reporting — I think this is an effect of two things. First, the fact that print media has been gutted over the last two decades. There are far fewer reporters than before. Blog writing has also declined dramatically, which means there are fewer writers able and willing to aggregate and analyze whatever reporting exists. Second, the few reporters who remain are comfortable elites who spend most of their time on Twitter. Social media provides an echo chamber with a lot of noise, very short turnarounds with no time for reflection, and very little scope for detailed arguments or details. Mainstream reporters are very concerned with maintaining their image as insiders. Challenging the establishment narrative means death for their careers.

      The Epstein is the test case for reporting in the modern era. This is the new normal.

  39. tegnost

    Right. The same fbi that spent the past few years discrediting trump has now handed him the ability to bribe the world. Sure thing. But hey, we’re no longer pondering the various failings of RRR hysteria. I’ll raise bobby gladd’s occams meat axe to occams battle axe. An unfathomable chocolate mess. No such thing as “the truth” will likely ever be known. Wagging the dog.

    1. tegnost

      meant to be a reply to JL1965, misplaced due to an error on my part, I tried to reply to another comment while this reply was in the box and it got bumped into the main queue…

  40. Michael Fiorillo

    I can’t add much to Yve’s excellent post and the follow-up comments, except to say that the events of recent days and weeks have made Pizzagate (as deranged as it was) into some kind of weird Jungian premonition… which is to say, the s&#* is out of control.

    When Trump was first elected, I tried to calm down friends with advanced TDS, who expected Kristallnacht to be directed at their favorite brunch spots, by saying that “This is what empires in decline look like.”

    In regard to this sordid tale, I’m reminded of Robert Graves’ (and the superb BBC TV version of) “I, Claudius.”

    “Don’t eat the figs.”

      1. adtena

        I was referring to the topic of this post: “Epstein’s world”.

        We’re not talking about the Roman Catholic Church.

        1. ambrit

          Epstein’s World was tied in with Hollywood and Wall Street. Both are homoerotic paedophile havens. The world of the Vatican is tied in to Wall Street; it has it’s own bank, the Instituto per le Opere de Religioni.
          Who knows? Perhaps there will be some Prelates unearthed from the Lolita Express passenger log.

        2. diptherio

          According to the Mint Press series on Epstein and his mentor, boys were also procured for those who were so inclined.

          1. Js

            I believe the mentor you are referring to is Roy Cohn, who was trumps mentor and lawyer. According to mintpress series , Cohn was running sexual blackmail rings , including using underage boys for years before epstein. The other connection pointed out in the series is is with alan greenburg, the man who hired epstein to bear stears after his firing from dalton, was good friends with Roy Cohn.

            I was already familiar with Cohns ugly history, including his mob ties. But this business about him running sexual blackmail ring on politicians and influential business people is new to me. Im hoping some other reputable to sites can vet the material in this series.

            According to webb, the author of the series, the jersualem post just interviewed her and may use her series.

  41. ambrit

    For what it is worth, in a comment above, I asked about the autopsy. Later in weaseling around the interwebs I came across this from a site called “The Intelligencer.” Anyone know much about the reliability and truthiness of this site? I do not, but the piece is fairly straight forward, except for the almost de rigeur defense of the Clintons and low level smearing of Trump. It also trots out the “overworked and understaffed jail” defense.

  42. Bobby Gladd

    “the overarching mission of this website is to promote critical thinking.”

    I’ve always regarded the phrase “critical thinking” with a bit of concern–even though I taught it at my university for a number of years (adjunct faculty serf). An inordinate number of my (partial “math credit”-seeking) students came to it anticipating “oh, boy, we’re just gonna get to endlessly argue about shit, and I can vent my frustrations.”

    Disappointment invariably ensued in short order.

  43. Duck1

    Well, have read quite a few articles and blogposts. In no particular order, many imply that E knew he would be arrested at Teterborough, yet no explanation of his omniscience about the indictment. If he is dead, one reasonable assumption might be that his brother is trustee of his estate, yet no one approaches him. Many claim E was filming people for blackmail, but seems to be a mere assertion. No one talks to Acosta.

    1. FKorning

      Said estate would be in probabate, and delayed until criminal matters are resolved.
      I would love for civil asset forfeiture apply rather than preying on the downtrodden.

  44. Peter L.

    Hi All,

    I was curious about the frequency of suicide at the Manhattan Correctional Center (MCC).

    Before getting to that, I wanted to mention that I appreciate the succinct expression of a problem: “… but with the rise in social media, the reaction to a news story often overwhelms the underlying event.” I feel this is exactly what we face in this case. I’m overwhelmed by the response, and am having some trouble figuring out what to pay attention to.

    I used google to search for “MCC number suicides” and found a Fox story,, which says that “Published reports tally only one suicide and three attempted suicides in the past 40 years at the Manhattan Correctional Center, which came under fire after Epstein’s death early Saturday.”

    I wonder if “published reports” refers to official counts from the prison itself, or just media stories. If the Fox tally is close to being accurate for the prison, this might indicate that suicide is highly unusual in that facility.

    My naive hunch was that suicide in jails was common, but perhaps in a facility such as MCC it is more rare. (By the way, rather frustrating to me is that in the google search results that came up there are several stories about prison and jail suicides in general, but only the Fox News report had a frequency specific to MCC. Rather depressingly, for example, a writer in the Atlantic invokes Sandra Bland in the same paragraph as Mr. Epstein, as though these are sensible comparisons. In that article, the author ignores the especially relevant question of the MCC success or failure at preventing suicides.)

    This seems like a “baseline” fact that might be useful as we make judgments about how this event happened.

    1. Susan C

      Now isn’t that interesting. I too have been curious as to how many other suicides happened at the MCC. This tells me two things. Reporters don’t want to mention this statistic as doing so could alarm people into thinking Epstein then most likely did not commit suicide as it is a rare phenomenon there. Plus past inmates there say there is no way to commit suicide there due to no fixtures and poor bedsheets even though they themselves have considered it. In other words, it was completely out of the question. Reporters say that Epstein hung himself, from where? A bunkbed? I think other inmates could have figured that one out for themselves if it was so easy. This makes me want to see a picture of the cell, or would that picture negate the bunk bed part of this story?
      There has to be a reason we are not seeing a picture of his cell.

      If suicides really didn’t happen there, the one that did and the three attempts, could the suicides have been from pills and not hanging? Plus how do we know the guards were sleeping, maybe just one guard was sleeping and the other one knew that but was awake. And why weren’t we told more about Epstein’s first suicide attempt, any details other than the bruises on his neck? All we were told was it was a suicide attempt but it must not have been. The psychiatrists let him out of suicide watch after four days and the only way that could have happened is if they knew it was not suicide but someone roughing him up. I think once the names were released on Friday, “they” decided they didn’t want him around anymore. They didn’t want their names and activities mentioned in court in front of the American public. And when will the medical examiner finally make a statement? And why did the ME need more information and of what exactly?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Epstein’s lawyer said that the previous time he was found passed out with bruises on his neck was not a suicide attempt but an attack. Epstein had a cell mate. Hard to commit suicide with someone else in the room unless he at least goes along.

        1. Susan C

          Yes but it’s interesting that it was made to look like a suicide the second time, or was it, or was that an easy fall-back assumption for the reporters to make?. And why have they refused to update the public in the meantime that the first time was not a suicide attempt? It’s like they don’t want people to think it could have been murder. The shreaking, screaming thing from CBS News makes me think Epstein was ambushed. Also it sounds like those housed around him heard things too. Have they been interviewed? If not, why not?

          1. Susan C

            An update from the news. Sounds like possible homicide due to the type of neck bones broken. The bone/bones broken are commonly associated with strangulation. That was how I saw it … some big guy holding him up by his neck to strangle him. If the screaming was true, this tells me Epstein knew the murderer, perhaps from the first attempt, and knew what was going to happen next.

      2. Peter L.

        Thanks for your response. With respect to “If suicides really didn’t happen there, the one that did and the three attempts, could the suicides have been from pills and not hanging?”

        For what its worth, not much maybe, I am extremely pessimistic about Fox’s report being accurate. One suicide in 40 years is improbably low. I should have made clear that I bet Fox did a cursory search through media accounts of suicide at MCC. I hope a journalist I can trust does a direct investigation of these issues. It’s gruesome to say: I think at the very least the number of dead bodies coming out of MCC is something that can be objectively determined. Maybe it is too simple minded, but I will change my guess about what led to Mr. Epstein’s death based on how often suicides happen at MCC.

        My sense from being utterly overwhelmed by the social media response (and mainstream media response, too) is that there has yet to be independent verification of any official statements so far. No trusted journalist has seen any of the evidence referred to by officials. It seems to me that doing an investigation of a suicide could be really, really difficult. First of all, forensic investigations have a bad reputation. Second, how on earth will we figure out whether or not people around Epstein deliberately threatened or frightened him into a state where he would be so terrified of being brutalized that he might kill himself?

        I don’t expect to ever know what happened in this case.

    2. FKorning

      This is a facility for the accused remanded into custody, not the convicted purging out their sentence. Ergo it does not yet extinguish all glimmer of hope, and homicide rates in general will be lower. This said it is almost accepted popular knowlegde that child molesters get assaulted and/or killed in incarceration. That alone would have justified high security.

      “Most prisoners held at MCC New York have pending cases in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. MCC New York also holds prisoners serving brief sentences”,_New_York

    3. John Lambert

      How many inmates does MCC have. That factors in here as well. Also how many are convicted sex offenders denied bail before a hearing?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Interesting, but 1) there’ve been denials that he was still on suicide watch, and 2) that facility is the same one that had no heat in the dead of winter. It’s in a state of complete breakdown, grossly understaffed and probably underfunded (as in, the heat didn’t work in the dead of winter).

      Apparently the warden and the two guards in charge of Epstein have been relieved of duty, but the horse already got away.

  45. Pelham

    As is true with the continued withholding of key documents in the JFK assassination, I believe that if the lousy reporting and official screwups in the Epstein case persist, it will be perfectly fine for the public to conclude and believe the absolute worst and act accordingly.

    Actually, we SHOULD believe the worst.

  46. Robin Kash

    Given the spotiness and inadequacy of reporting on the Epstein affair I wonder if an avenue for exploration might be that of a more direct involvement of media moguls and highly placed media staff in being serviced by Epstein i.e., the decision-makers regarding what gets covered and published are themselves subject to exposure, embarrassment, and other things that befall men caught in such matters.
    Who covers the press and roots out its secret malefactions? Rogue reporters? And who publishes them? Indeed!

  47. Kurtismayfield

    Bear with me, as I am totally out of my depth when it comes to SOP involving autopsies. It is already completed, but hasn’t been released:

    Post article on autopsy not being released but finished

    “Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson in a statement Sunday night.

    “The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time. At the request of those representing the decedent, and with the awareness of the federal prosecutor, I allowed a private pathologist (Dr. Michael Baden) to observe the autopsy examination. This is routine practice.”

    What would be the reasoning for this?

    #1. Something suspicious was found and they want to double check with the prosecutor?

    #2. They need to run it by officials before it is released?

    #3. They are unsure of their findings and need further info?

    This whole situation is just strange, and for them to need more info before completing the autopsy when it is suspected to be death by suicide makes it weirder.

    1. False Solace

      Dr Michael Baden has been all over social media lately. His Wikipedia entry notes the following:

      Known for: Testimony at the O. J. Simpson trial · Investigations of the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations

      Certainly an interesting guy.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        I don’t know what Baden has been up to in recent years, but back in the day he did expose malfeasance and collusion between the Medical Examiner’s office and the NYPD over police killings.

    2. turtle

      Just going by what I’ve read in the comments here that mentioned that Epstein’s lawyer has stated that the previous “suicide attempt” was actually an attack, it certainly makes sense that this same lawyer would want to have a private medical examiner observe the autopsy (to make sure that nothing about the procedure was obfuscated by the official examiner to hide foul play).

  48. Oregoncharles

    ” the bizarre show of the raid on Epstein’s island.” – To Be Fair, the raid might have been scheduled a long time ago. Hopefully someone (local?) was watching, or anything useful would be long gone.

  49. polecat

    This is doomed to dissolve. To a greater and significant degree, the public is finding true justice wanting, and thus holds no trust in Government, at All levels.

    But hey … that’s just conspiracy theory talk .. right ?

  50. Wellstone's Ghost

    If there was no camera in his cell, I would bet a million dollars there was one in the hallway. A video of him being removed from his cell would seem to settle the matter rather quickly.

  51. Knot Galt

    Maybe a dry run for how American autocrats will treat Assange?

    As for precedent, there is the July 5, 2006 Kenneth Lay death.

  52. Tomonthebeach

    From all the comments on this post, it is clear that we are all having fun playing Alex Jones for a day. Of course, when we go back to thinking like adults the only conclusion that makes sense is that numerous parties in government have conspired to create an information vacuum in order to suck in as much confusing conspiracy-mongering as possible so that nobody could possibly divine what actually took place. To go to that much effort, I suspect the man is carrion.

    We have all watched enough 007 and similar movies to appreciate that Mossad, CIA, FBI, MI6 etc. are all interconnected collaborators and that the means exist to make it look like the fictional straight-jacketed Hannibal the cannibal committed suicide. LOL

  53. Roquentin

    I just can’t make myself believe this was a suicide. I realized on Monday I’m not even sure what it would take. If someone showed me a photograph of his corpse with a sheet around his neck, my gut reaction would be that it was doctored. Try as I might, I just can’t see any way that they’d allow this to happen to the most high profile prisoner in the US. No way in hell. I have no idea who put it together, the line of people with a motive to want Epstein dead stretches around the block. I also don’t know the exact method, but there’s just no scenario I can see in which the official narrative is plausible.

    And as the post states, everything about what officialdom and the press is doing makes it seem even fishier. I’m still mostly just shocked that we’ve reached a point where the elite would be so brazenly corrupt and most of the press acting as craven running dogs carrying water for them. Maybe that’s the long view on this whole episode, regardless of what we find out American faith in the press and our leaders across the political spectrum has been dealt a severe blow it probably won’t recover from for a long time. The very fact no one can even seem to outline the basic facts of what happened in a convincing manner speaks to that. It’s such a hurricane of bullshit, how can anyone find a way out?

  54. blackerman

    It was reassuring, in a perverse way, to see Yves finger precisely what has seemed most odd about the days following his ‘apparent’ suicide: the complete absence of reporting on the most simple, basic questions, things like the layout of his cell, the regularity of video cams, the layout of the prison, the identity of his second cell-mate, etc. The things that would begin to give the public a picture of what has transpired. It’s all frustratingly blank.
    So I’ll add my obvious question to pool to those that no one is even bothering to answer:
    1. When someone is taken off of Suicide Watch, who needs to be contacted? Wouldn’t the Prosecutors have to be told–particularly in a high-profile case where the suspect allegedly tried to take his life a few days ago? Were they contacted, and what was their position? Did they approve of it? It seems impossible for me to imagine that they were unaware that he was no longer being monitored, and yet that simple question has, as far as I can tell, yet to be asked. It’s being presented in the media as though it were all a set of decisions all internal to the MCC.
    2. When he allegedly tried to take his life once before, what were the details? All we were told is that he was found unconscious or nearly unconscious on the floor of his cell with marks on his neck. But what’s the picture here? Flesh is out just a tiny bit more. Was there something hanging from the ceiling that he had fallen out of? Was there something still around his neck? Those two details couldn’t be more plain and obvious and presumably easy to answer–and if neither is the case, then the picture of someone unconscious on the floor with marks on their neck tells a very different story.

    1. barrisj

      News stories suggest that Epstein’s legal team requested to MCC that their client be taken of suicide watch…would they now be considered as part of “the conspiracy to murder Jeffery Epstein”?

    2. ivoteno

      The things that would begin to give the public a picture of what has transpired. It’s all frustratingly blank.

      along these lines, albeit somewhat (wildly) off topic for this post, i am still waiting for our vaunted fourth estate to give us some concrete information on what happened in las vegas. i long ago gave up hope there would be any sort of “closure,”

  55. roxan

    I used to do suicide watch on some of my jobs. There is no way someone could hang themselves in those stripped down high security cells, whether anyone is watching or not. It’s relatively easy to hang oneself, but I don’t think anyone could just strangle themselves, intentionally. I also found diagrams of the cells on that wing by googling. Pretty barren. I wonder if the substitute guard was really an assassin? We will never know, of course, but I sure would have loved to hear Epstein ‘tell all.’

  56. grayslady

    Critical thinking is all we have left, it seems. The great investigative reporters, such as Bob Parry, went independent a long time ago. Since I haven’t seen it mentioned yet, Epstein verbally hired a new attorney, David Schoen, to head up his legal team just days before he died. As far as I can tell, only Fox News, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Atlanta Jewish Times picked up the story, the latter source being the most comprehensive interview of Schoen. If the legacy media/elite propaganda press wanted to do a deep dive on Epstein, any one of the reporters could have started with the visitor log at the prison and found Schoen’s name. The Schoen story has been out for two days now, but it appears that none of the major papers outside of Atlanta has picked up on this.

    Schoen, who met with Epstein for five hours has a lot of interesting observations. To wit (from the article):

    “I don’t believe it was suicide. … I think someone killed him.”

    Schoen noted media reports that Epstein had attempted to commit suicide on July 23. “That was not a suicide attempt,” Schoen said. “It involved another inmate.”

    Putting on my critical thinking hat, the information in the Schoen interview confirms that Epstein continued to believe he just needed the right lawyers to, again, escape retribution. As to the first “suicide” attempt, the other inmate Schoen references is likely Tartaglione, who strikes me as the kind of self-absorbed, self-righteous vigilante that law enforcement seems to attract. Tartaglione was Epstein’s roommate–body builder, former Briarcliff Manor cop–that Briarcliff Manor seemed happy to pay off just to get him off the force. Tartaglione’s lawyer says that he and Epstein got on well together, but then he would say that, wouldn’t he? You don’t want to prejudice your client’s chances before he goes to trial. However, those who remember John Kiriakou’s Letters from Loretto, on the former Firedog Lake website, remember that even someone as reasonable as Kiriakou exhibited a white hot rage when he spoke about the pedophiles at Loretto. So one question to ask is when, exactly, was Tartaglione transferred to a different cell than the one he shared with Epstein? Also, why hasn’t the medical examiner at least come out with the time of death? If Tartaglione’s transfer was only a few hours before the prison says it found Epstein unresponsive, is it possible that Tartaglione was responsible for Epstein’s death, and that the rest of the story about “suicide” is actually a desperate attempt by the MCC to cover up incompetence by staging a hanging? I don’t know, but critical thinking tells me it’s disturbing that very few media outlets are covering Schoen’s testimony.

    1. Acacia

      Good find!

      I believe that after the first “suicide attempt” Tartaglione claimed to have not seen or heard anything, but there was clearly suspicion about him. At the time, my thought was: “who thought it was a good idea to put Epstein in a cell with a suspected murderer?” Or was that perhaps intentional, i.e., placing him in a cell with a ‘self-absorbed, self-righteous vigilante’ who might do some serious harm?

      Also, I thought that Tartaglione and Epstein were separated after the first “suicide” attempt, but I’m trying to recall now if that was actually reported anywhere. Similarly, most people following this assumed Epstein remained on suicide watch, but then after his “death”, we heard that his own lawyer lobbied to have the suicide watch lifted. Could that be one of the reasons he wanted a new lawyer, as well?

    2. Tom

      You’re the first to mention Nicholas Tartaglione who appears to be a mob hit man. Interesting character in the story.

    3. flora

      Thanks for this link.
      Secondary news sources may provide more information on this story than NYTimes and WaPo.

  57. Heidi's Master

    Whether or not Epstein was murdered or committed suicide is immaterial to the lack of critical thinking and quality reporting on the matter. It would be surprising if the “truth” of what happened came out. All the same his death will put a damper on any government investigation and any news media investigation. Just look at the investigative reporting done by Gary Webb concerning the crack epidemic. If Epstein was indeed murdered and the consensus of most folks is that he was then it is true that they will stop at nothing to keep the lid on things. If I was a reporter or government investigator, I be scared to death of the people behing Epstein. Compared to RussiaGate the story that the CIA is subverting our democracy using a Pedophile/Blackmail ring holds infinitely more gravity.

    1. James

      Better question: how in the world would we know the “truth” if it ever were to come out? That’s the true beauty of these kinds of psyops. They’re truly the gift that keeps on giving.

  58. Mattski

    Mostly speculation, dump if this somehow violates site policy, but I have been gnawing on two pieces of this for days and this is what I have come up with: An immediate examination of the newly released evidence seemed to exonerate Trump. So did some circumstantial details: Trump never took the Lolita Express. Trump threw Epstein out of a party (might not have if Epstein had something on him). And Trump spoke openly of Epstein’s predilection for little girls, probably would not have if he shared it.

    There is the interesting question of why Epstein flew back to the U.S. to be arrested in Teterboro.

    There is also the fascinating question why FL gov Ron DeSantis, a fawning acolyte of Trump’s, launched an apparent no-holds-barred investigation of how and why Epstein got off in the first place.

    There is also the very interesting issue of the neocons’ desire to foment a war with Iran, and suggestions that Netanyuhu was furious.

    My thesis, then: Trump, convinced that the case implicated more Democrats than Republicans–probably MOSTLY Democrats judging by names bandied thus far, decided to have at it, and cut some kind of plea deal with Epstein in exchange for the goods on them.

    The rationale: The myopic Dems have no idea how much the country at large hates the Clintons and the (perceived) effete bazillionaires who support them (forgive the savor of Spiro Agnew in this language, but they are pretty much right). If Trump could permanently destroy their reputation he and the Republicans would be sitting pretty, indeed. He would also, collaterally, be pushing Israel quite a bit further away in terms of its influence and power over the WH.

    P.S. I know I am in the realm of purest speculation here, but does AIPAC’s hold over the Dems owe to any of Epstein’s shenanigans?

    P.P.S. Apropos of my comments about the Dems complete lack of awareness, as my wife notes: Clinton on that plane 26 times should be enough to discredit the man forever.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      You have fleshed out and articulated much of what I suspected in inchoate form.

      Most everyone misunderestimates Trump, who, despite his many-sided repulsiveness and scatteredness, also seems to be a kind of political idiot savant, and the facts reported so far do seem to support the thesis that the Clintons/Dems had more to lose with the re-opening of the case.

  59. Acacia

    There is the interesting question of why Epstein flew back to the U.S. to be arrested in Teterboro.

    For me, the most compelling reflection on this to date has been by Raúl Ilargi Meijer. Briefly, Meijer argues that Epstein thought he had a deal and that he could provide some information (shall we call it a “limited hangout”?) in exchange for his lawyers getting to redact a bunch of stuff from the 2,000 pages of judicial documents concerning Epstein and his milieu that were ordered unsealed by a New York federal appeals court — probably no coincidence here — just a few days before his return to the US from France. The plan was to do some damage control, and then get another sweetheart sentence, like the one he got from Acosta in 2008.

    This would support your idea that Trump, or somebody in his administration, tried to cut some kind of deal with Epstein. The media would of course attempt to link Epstein to Trump, but it wouldn’t stick any more than the similarly hysterical claims that he’s a Russian agent, etc.

    One bizarre thing that just popped up in the Daily Mail: a sexual image of Bill Clinton wearing a blue dress and red heels, supposedly found in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

    This Clinton cross-dresser story feels a bit random, but it does also support the idea that the fallout from l’affaire Epstein was calculated to be more damaging for the Democrats than for Trump.

  60. VietnamVet

    Jeff Epstein was an operator in the counter revolt that restored the oligarchy. He catered to the needs of the powerful for decades starting in the 1980s. Corporate media studiously covers up the descent of Washington DC into corrupt incompetence, the crash of the middle class with insurmountable debt, and the plutocrats “factional struggle” for control as the hegemon collapses. Media cannot tell the truth. It is against the best interests of their owners. America lost its innocence in 1963. In 2019, all who perceive that Russiagate is fake news have also lost their belief in American institutions.

  61. sea.and.slow

    Quoting Jonathan Dienst from the news clip at the top of the article, “Why was the decision made to take him off suicide watch? You’d have to ask the psychologist or psychiatrist who made those determinations, along with the prison management.”

    No Jonathan, you’d have to ask them! It beggars belief that the chief investigative reporter for a premier news outlet would say, referring to pivotal details of the suspicious death of the highest profile prisoner in the country, “you should go ahead and ask those guys.”

  62. The Rage

    Epstein cleared Clinton of being in his sex ring in 2008, the same year Clinton family purged him as their financier. The difference between Clinton and say, the Wexner family was, he made them money……………so they kept him around. Bill Richardson was the biggest name in the ring from the DNC side and notice how his career politically just sorta died……………I wonder why?

    Jeffrey knew he was toast in the jail sell. Ted Nugent would have done the same thing. Better die with your own hands than by some random thug in jail.

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