At the press conference announcing the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein, a reporter asked U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman if new evidence played any role. Berman gave a hat tip to investigative journalists who followed the case after Epstein was handed a sweetheart plea deal when he was prosecuted for sex crimes more than a decade ago.
“We were assisted from some excellent investigative journalism,” Berman said.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who was involved in Epstein’s plea deal as a federal prosecutor, referenced “new evidence” in a Twitter message the following day.
“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Acosta wrote. “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”
Perhaps in an effort to control the damage, Acosta conducted a press conference, at which he repeated his claim that “they’ve brought these charges on new evidence.”
“New evidence.” An “assist” from journalists. Don’t believe it.
The New York prosecutors didn’t take action after reading a newspaper article about a game-changing piece of evidence. Compare the 2007 non-prosecution agreement with the new indictment. Both address sex trafficking of children. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been sitting on mountains of evidence confirming Epstein’s abuse of young girls for more than 10 years.
The “assist” was instead a wave of public outrage upon the discovery of how the Justice Department and Florida prosecutors protected a child sex offender with a lenient plea deal, hid the details from the victims and the public, and failed to prosecute the women who helped Epstein find, groom, and exploit children.
What did the Justice Department have on Epstein? The answers can be found in a 2008 lawsuit in which two of Epstein’s alleged victims in Doe v. U.S. sued the United States for violating their rights under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act. In particular, they claimed the government violated their right to confer during the negotiation of the non-prosecution agreement and failed to inform the victims that Epstein’s state plea would end the federal case. The victims also claimed the government “violated their right to be treated with fairness” by concealing the non-prosecution agreement.
Judge Kenneth Marra sided with the victims on Feb. 21, ruling that the Justice Department violated the victims’ rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The opinion (pdf) set forth the DOJ’s conspiracy with Epstein’s lawyers to deceive the victims. Some of those who participated in the plea deal at the local level have offered justifications. As the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown reported:
“Assistant U.S. Attorney [Marie] Villafaña, in court papers, said that prosecutors used their ‘best efforts’ to comply with the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, but exercised their ‘prosecutorial discretion’ when they chose not to notify the victims.
“The reasoning went like this: The non-prosecution deal had a restitution clause that provided the girls a chance to seek compensation from Epstein. Had the deal fallen through, necessitating a trial, Epstein’s lawyers might have used the prior restitution clause to undermine the girls’ credibility as witnesses, by claiming they had exaggerated Epstein’s behavior in hopes of cashing in.”
These excuses fall flat. The volume of evidence that the DOJ had on Epstein and his criminal enterprise was extensive. For example, privilege logs filed by the prosecutors in the Doe case show they had records covering every part of Epstein’s life, including his finances, corporate records, flight logs, and phone calls with conspirators.
When it came to the victims, the evidence was overwhelming. The DOJ had an FBI file entitled “Summary of Sexual Activity,” containing an analysis of victim-specific information. This included a chart showing phone calls, travel, and grand jury evidence relevant to possible charges. Records show this involved at least nine potential victims. The DOJ was also in possession of FBI reports of interviews of victims and witnesses in New York back in March 2008.
Court records also revealed the DOJ had jury transcripts, witness and victim interviews, investigative files from the State of Florida and the Palm Beach Police Department, and records on potential co-conspirators.
The evidence was there. What was missing was the institutional desire to prosecute child sexual abuse. The institutions failed the victims. And the media has failed the public by not demanding those in power answer a simple question: “Why?”
The answer to that question lies with the Department of Justice headquarters, also known as “main Justice.” They knew. Epstein’s criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz has stated that the plea deal “went through numerous levels of approval at main Justice.”
The involvement of main Justice was confirmed in the court’s Feb. 21 opinion, which states “any requirement that Epstein carry out his obligations under the [non-prosecution agreement] was delayed while he sought higher-level review within the Justice Department.”
Further corroboration was provided by Acosta at his July 10 press conference, where he stated that people from main Justice were involved early in the development of the Epstein case and were aware of its progression. Acosta declined to state who at main Justice was involved in the Epstein case. I have names.
Court records show that post-plea-deal decisions went up to Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who, according to one former DOJ official, has a stellar reputation. Filip was informed of reasons to approve the continued prosecution of Epstein if he didn’t comply with the non-prosecution agreement. Judge Marra noted that Filip reviewed the Epstein matter and determined that federal prosecution of Epstein was appropriate if he did not “comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.”
Another high-level Department of Justice official who had his fingerprints on the case is Andrew Oosterbaan, then-chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. A privilege log filed on June 23, 2015, references several emails from 2007 between the Florida federal prosecutors and Oosterbaan regarding an “Epstein meeting” and “changes to the draft indictment and status of plea negotiations.”
The same document shows emails from 2008 with Oosterbaan concerning a “continued delay in presenting case to grand jury due to failure to receive decision from D.C., the status of grand jury presentation and ongoing investigation” and a “meeting in DC” concerning the case.
Additionally, these records appear to show Epstein’s attorneys reached out to Andy Lourie in May 2007 to arrange a meeting to discuss the Epstein investigation. Lourie was the acting chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division in Washington in 2006, before becoming the acting principal deputy assistant attorney general and chief of staff to the Criminal Division by 2007. In 2007, he was also an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida. Lourie was kept in the loop on possible federal coercion and enticement charges, proposed changes to the indictment, “finalizing details with State Attorney’s Office,” and “final revisions to indictment package.”
There are also notations of 2007 emails from Florida federal prosecutors to Myesha Braden, who was serving as a trial attorney for the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, regarding securing a pre-indictment consultation contract. This correspondence took place months before Epstein signed the non-prosecution agreement.
In other words, main Justice was well-informed with the investigation and status of the case.
The involvement of main Justice raises the question of who made the ultimate decision on Epstein’s sweetheart deal. Was Acosta following orders from main Justice? If so, who issued the orders and how high did it go? Who did Filip and Oosterbaan report to?
And why did main Justice have such an interest in a South Florida child sex offender?
This quote from Acosta, cited in a July 9, 2019, Daily Beast article, may provide the answer: “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.