Jeffrey Epstein charged with running sex trafficking ring
Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he is recused from the case involving multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
He told reporters in South Carolina one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm Barr subsequently joined.
A senior administration official told CNN there was an internal administration review of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case in Florida.
The official was cautious in assessing Acosta's standing with the White House.
"We will wait and see what develops. This is obviously a significant event," the official said about the Epstein case. "We need to see what comes of it."
The official could not say whether that review had been completed.
In November, the Miami Herald reported Acosta, who was the US Attorney in Florida, had brokered a deal with one of Epstein's attorneys, where he pleaded to two state prostitution charges, ultimately serving only 13 months and avoiding a federal trial in 2008. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
The deal allowed Epstein to avoid major repercussions even though a federal investigation had identified 36 underage victims.
The non-prosecution agreement only applies to the US Attorney's office in Florida, which is why the Southern District of New York can file charges against Epstein.
The US attorney's office has been contacted over the last 36 hours by attorneys and people who allege they were victims of Jeffrey Epstein, a prosecutor told the judge at Monday's hearing.
None of them had previously spoken with the office.
The prosecutor also said Epstein has refused to answer questions about his wealth or assets for pretrial services.
Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney Reid Weingarten, speaking in federal court, described the Manhattan US attorney's indictment as a "do-over" of the Florida investigation.
“To us, this indictment is essentially a do-over...This is the very stuff that was investigated by the feds in Florida,” Weingarten said during his client’s presentment.
About the Florida investigation: The well-connected hedge fund manager previously evaded similar charges when he secured a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in Miami. Instead of facing federal charges, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in 2008 and served just 13 months in prison. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
But that arrangement has come under intense scrutiny as the result of a Miami Herald investigation that examined how it was handled by then-US Attorney Alexander Acosta, who now serves as labor secretary in President Donald Trump's Cabinet.
The Herald investigation said that Acosta gave Epstein the "deal of a lifetime" despite a federal investigation identifying 36 underage victims. The agreement, the Herald said, "essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe" and further granted immunity to "any potential co-conspirators" in the case.
In February, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the Department of Justice broke the law by failing to confer with Epstein's victims about the agreement.
Referencing the 2007 non-prosecution agreement Epstein entered with the Southern District of Florida earlier Monday, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, “that agreement only binds, by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida. The Southern District of New York is not bound by that agreement and is not a signatory to that agreement.”
At Jeffrey Epstein's hearing today, the parties and the judge agreed to adjourn the detention hearing until Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
Epstein will be detained until that time.
Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges he is facing — one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which carry no mandatory minimum sentences.
Jeffrey Epstein just entered a courtroom in New York where he will be presented before a federal judge.
He is wearing navy prison garb, his hair is rumpled, and his face is ruddy. He isn’t wearing handcuffs.