Yesterday, on the White House lawn, Trump briefly spoke to reporters about his old -- well, for now, let's call him "acquaintance," since it's other more repulsive terms are premature -- Jeffrey Epstein who was arrested the other day on sex trafficking charges with minors.
“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him," Trump said. "People in Palm Beach knew him. He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I was not a fan,”
Putting aside for the moment that Trump is the guy who said he didn't really know Felix Sater, a recent business partner with whom there are photos of them together. And who said he didn't know writer E. Jean Carroll who accused him of sexual assault, despite there being photos of them laughing together.
And let's put aside too that they haven't spoken for 15 years because of a falling out. Just to fill in the gaps, reports are that their falling out was that Epstein hit on the daughter of a Mar a Lago member, which is apparently going one step too far in Trump World. And so Trump had him kicked out of the club.
No, rather, let's look at that last sentence in his quote. "I was not a fan."
Now, I think it's far to say that Trump was not a fan when he kicked Epstein out of the club. But that's not the distance Trump is trying to put between himself and his long time "acquaintance." Because if Trump was only referring to the last moments of his friendship when it finally soured, that would be meaningless to say when trying to put miles between you and a convicted sexual predator of underage girls. (And even miles is not far enough.) No, Trump is clearly trying to make a definitive statement to block any relationship at all between the two. "I was not a fan" is his way of saying that.
Mind you, "I hated the guy, he was a low-life, really scummy, there was something seriously wrong and depraved about the guy" would seem to be more along the lines of what you're looking for, but this is Trump, so we're stuck with "I was not a fan."
The problem is -- and it's a really big problem -- is that in 2002, Trump told New York magazine that he'd known Epstein for 15 years and added:
“Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
So, no, "I was not a fan" really doesn't hold much water here. (Note: "much water" shall herein be defined as "none.")
Very clearly, Trump was a fan. And a very big one. And even admired how much Epstein had quite the eye for the ladies "on the younger side." No doubt about it.
No, one is not guilty by association. One is guilty by participation. And the problem for Trump is that from past stories, there does appear to be a lot of participation. And Trump's own words yesterday seem to support that. When the best you can offer about a convicted sex offender who was just arrested on similar charges by your own Justice Department is "I was not a fan" when you are already on record saying what a huge fan you are of the guy and why -- it's a very bad look.
Looking forward to seeing how Lindsey Graham and the rest of the GOP in Congress continue to defend him. No doubt about it.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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