On Contact: The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell
On the show this week Chris Hedges talks to investigative journalist Nick Bryant about the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell.
The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, held at New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center and denied bail, will be tried this fall on sex-trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting and grooming teenage girls to engage in sex acts with the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein. She is reputed to have procured teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004 and allegedly paid the girls hundreds of dollars in cash after each encounter with Epstein. Epstein died in a New York jail cell in August 2019 in what authorities ruled was a suicide, although a doctor hired by Epstein’s family to conduct an independent autopsy has disputed that conclusion. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. But this is not a routine sexual abuse and trafficking case. Epstein socialized with the political, social and financial elites, including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, former Democratic Senate Majority leader George Mitchell, Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and Bill Gates. It is alleged that he made his stable of underage women available to his powerful friends and filmed their sexual encounters with elaborate, hidden surveillance cameras set up inside his residences. And yet, none of these powerful figures have been charged or investigated. The surveillance videos have vanished. The investigative journalist Nick Bryant first made public Epstein’s black book with the names, phone numbers and addresses of Epstein’s elite social circle along with the star-studded passenger logs to Epstein’s private plane, known as the “Lolita Express,” which often took his powerful guests to his private Caribbean island, nicknamed Orgy Island. Bryant has written on the Epstein case for Vanity Fair and other publications.
Nick Bryant is a journalist whose work largely focuses on the plight of disadvantaged children in the United States. His mainstream and investigative journalism has been featured in Gear, Playboy, the Reader, and on Salon.com. He is author of The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal.
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Chris Hedges: Welcome to On Contact. Today, we talk with investigative journalist Nick Bryant about the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell.
Nick Bryant: Maxwell was part and parcel of that whole operation. And she knows the kind of power that is and we’re dealing with the--with the apex of power. And I believe that she--it looks at this point like she is gonna take the fall by herself. Her--and her trial has been really fishy. I mean, first, it was, like, a year from the time that she was indicted that had her and Jeff for a year and it was supposed to start in July, but then it’s been pushed back another three months, so--the--that--it’s not malfeasance, but it’s certainly fishy. Nothing in the Jeffrey Epstein story makes any sense.
CH: British Socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell, held at New York’s metropolitan detention center and denied bail, will be tried this fall on sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting and grooming teenage girls to engage in sexual acts with the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein. She is reputed to have procured teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004, and allegedly paid the girls hundreds of dollars in cash after each encounter with Epstein. Epstein died in a New York jail cell in August 2019 in what authorities ruled was a suicide, although a doctor hired by Epstein’s family to conduct and independent autopsy has disputed that conclusion. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. But this is not a routine sexual abuse and trafficking case. Epstein socialized with the political, social, and financial elites including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew, and Bill Gates. It is alleged that he made his stable of underage women available to his powerful friends, and filmed their sexual encounters with elaborate hidden surveillance cameras set up inside his residences. And yet, none of these powerful figures have been charged or investigated. The surveillance videos have vanished. Joining me to discuss this nexus of power and sexual abuse and the strange anomalies of the Epstein case is the investigative journalist Nick Bryant. Bryant first made public Epstein’s black book with the names, phone numbers, and addresses for Epstein’s elite social circle along with the star-studded passenger logs to Epstein’s private plane known as the “Lolita Express” which often took his powerful guests to his private Caribbean island nicknamed “Orgy Island.” Bryant has written on the Epstein case for many publications including Gawker. So why don’t you lay out for us, Nick, and quickly, so for people who aren’t familiar what it is that Epstein was charged with and what Maxwell has been charged with?
NB: Okay. In 2005, a 14-year old girl, accompanied by her parents, approached the Palm Beach Police Department, and she had said that she had been molested by Jeffrey Epstein. She provided details of his anatomy and also details of his--of this home in Palm Beach. And the detectives in that case--for the Palm Beach Police Department, they pursued it tenaciously but gingerly because after all, Jeffrey Epstein was, they thought, a wealthy philanthropic type person. And ultimately they found five girls. There were more, they knew of more, but there were five girls that came forward, underage girls. And then there were a number of people that corroborated their stories. And ultimately they wanted to indict Jeffrey Epstein, and the indictment was ready, they wanted to indict Jeffrey Epstein on five counts of child abuse. But the State of Florida took that case away from the--from the Palm Beach Police Department and said that there would be--they decided to have a grand jury look into the allegations. And the Palm Beach Police Department is very upset about that because they had nailed Jeffrey Epstein, they had spent a year on Jeffrey Epstein and they had nailed him. So when the Epstein case went before the grand jury, and I don’t know if your audience is familiar with grand juries, but when a grand jury indicts someone, it sounds like a decree from the gods of jurisprudence, but grand juries have been notoriously corrupt in the past because jurors are just simply citizens that have shown up for jury duty and they’ve been filed to a grand juror. And one--generally, one person called the special prosecutor is chosen to show the evidence to the--to the--to the grand jurors and also to call witnesses. So there was a judge in New York, an appellate judge, that said a special prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. So what happened in the Epstein case is that only the Palm Beach Police Department nailed them. There were four--five underage girls that had come forward but they knew of others, but one--only one of the girls was called before the grand jury and she was skewered by the grand jury prosecutor and ultimately with--that grand jury said that Jeffrey Epstein had not molested a single child and indicted him on one count of adult solicitation of prostitution. So it was in fact a ham sandwich.
CH: So in 2008, the just department--Justice Department intervened in this case, you write, “To engineer a sweetheart deal.” Explain what that--what that was. And it had some anomalies to it including, as you write, “A federal non-prosecution agreement that granted immunity to all of his co-conspirators including procurers and perpetrators.”
NB: Yes, once the feds took over, there were more aberrations of justice. So what happened, when that grand jury didn’t indict Epstein on a single count of child abuse, the Palm Beach Police Department just was very upset and got very vociferous about how corrupt that grand jury was. So the federal government stepped in and the federal government was going to give us justice regarding Jeffrey Epstein, but they were as corrupt as the state grand jury. First of all, the justice department had a list of 32 Epstein victims, a list of 32 girls that had been molested by Jeffrey Epstein. But Epstein’s lawyers colluded with the justice department. And I’ve got some emails where there’s definitely malfeasance and collusion going on. And what was worked out is with the feds, they would--they told that the feds and the state worked out a deal where the feds worked out a non-prosecution agreement which exonerated all the perpetrators and procurers. And Epstein was to do 18 months in a county jail and he did 13 months. And that miscarriage of justice is very egregious because as I said earlier, the department of justice had a list of 32 Jeffrey Epstein victims.
CH: Let’s talk about what it is he was charged with in the social circle including, of course, Trump, Clinton, and others that he ran in about his private island, about you were the one who released the flight logs, Alan Dershowitz, talk about his role in terms of defending Epstein. Talk a little bit about what we know from reports went on and who was involved. I mean, I think for instance Bill Clinton has said that he never visited Epstein’s island. But can you lay out what that--what that look like?
NB: In 2012, I acquired Jeffrey Epstein’s Black Book. And how that Black Book ultimately came to me was Alfredo Rodriguez was the house manager of Jeffrey Epstein. And he tried to sell it to an attorney who was representing one of the victims in civil litigation. And the attorney called the FBI, and the FBI did a sting on Alfredo Rodriguez. And that’s how we got possession of the--of the black book, but he had circled a number of players that he said were involved with Epstein and whom the FBI called material witnesses. And the names that are circled are--I mean, it leads to Mount Olympus. Trump’s named is circled, Dershowitz’s name is circled, George Mitchell’s name is circled, Bill Richardson, Clinton’s Energy Czar and former New Mexico governor was circle. Bruce King, former New Mexico Governor, his name was also circled. And there were a number of financiers that were circled, too. So according to Alfredo Rodriguez, these people that were circled had--he had witnessed them in Palm Beach. Clinton’s name was not circled but Epstein had 22 contact numbers for Clinton. So obviously Bill and Jeff were seemingly close. And Ghislaine Maxwell had told a former producer of 60 Minutes that Epstein did in fact have footage of both Trump and Clinton engaged in [INDISTINCT] acts with minors. And yes, Bill Clinton had said that he had never gone to Orgy Island but that documentary that came out, Filthy Rich, about Jeffrey Epstein, definitely proves that Clinton had been at Orgy Island.
CH: Let’s talk about the surveillance cameras. How do we know they were there? He--Epstein had several residences. One in New Mexico, a townhouse in New York, his residence in Florida. What do we know about the surveillance system? And where do we get that information from?
NB: Well, the first mention of Jeffrey Epstein’s hidden cameras is from the Palm Beach Police Department when they executed a search warrant on his home in Florida. They found hidden cameras. And one of Epstein’s victims, Maria Farmer, who was in New York, Epstein I guess--because of his unbridled hubris, actually showed her a secret panel that opened and she--and she accompanied Epstein into this room where she said “Men were monitoring cameras that were hidden in bedrooms and also in bathrooms.” So Epstein was not working alone. According to Maria Farmer, Epstein’s blackmail operation was not just Jeffrey Epstein. And then we also know from a Vanity Fair article that Jeffrey Epstein’s Orgy Island was wired for audiovisual blackmail, too. So there’s a tremendous amount of corroboration that Jeffrey Epstein was a blackmail artist. But what people miss about this is Jeffrey Epstein was a college dropout from a blue-collar family in Coney Island. There’s no way that Jeffrey Epstein, by himself, could’ve blackmailed the most powerful people in the world. And some of them definitely have connections to organized crime and ruffians and murderers. And what happened with Jeffrey Epstein is he was obviously protected by a large organization--nefarious organization that allowed him to continue to blackmail the world’s most richest and powerful men. And Alexander Acosta who was a US attorney who ultimately signed off on Jeffrey Epstein’s deal, and was made Trump’s labor secretary, he was going to go after Jeffrey Epstein, and he was told to back off because Jeffrey Epstein was, “Intelligence” and it was above his pay grade. And I wrote a book called “The Franklin Scandal…” for…
CH: We’re going to stop--we’re going to--we’re just going to take a break there, Nick, and then come back. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation about the nexus of power and sexual abuse in the Jeffrey Epstein case with investigative journalist Nick Bryant. Welcome back to On Contact. We continue our conversation about the nexus of power and sexual abuse in the Epstein-Maxwell case with Investigative Journalist Nick Bryant. So, Nick I just want to talk a little bit about the type of abuse that these girls underwent. There’s a quote, this is from The Guardian Newspaper. And it’s talking about Maxwell who essentially worked as Epstein’s procure or pimp. A butler witnessed firsthand a 15-year-old Swedish girl crying and shaking because Maxwell was attempting to force her to have sex with Epstein and she refused. Court documents filed by Giuffre’s lawyers claim, the girl allegedly said that Maxwell tried to force her to have sex with Epstein through threats and stealing her passport. And we have testimony, this is from--is it Juan Alessi? A second Epstein house manager that Maxwell procured over a hundred girls for Epstein, talk about what happened to those girls. What was physically done to those girls and Maxwell’s role in this?
NB: Well, Maxwell was marched lack stamp with Jeffrey Epstein. Whenever Jeffrey Epstein was into Maxwell was there. And she was definitely a co-conspirator with Jeffrey Epstein. And I’ve talked to Epstein’s victims. And some of them were--there--a couple of those power brokers are--were into demeaning the girls. And one of them was actually into assaulting these girls. And it really shows how sick they were because Epstein would serve these poor girls up on a silver platter. And some of these really powerful pedophiles were unbelievably sadistic to the girls. And that is a trend that I’ve seen. I’ve been investigating these types of stories for quite some time since 2002. And I wrote a book about a powerbroker pedophile network that was run out of Washington, DC. And those powerbrokers were also--some of them were also into being really sadistic to the kids that were supplied to them, which is true and unfortunate because some of the most powerful men in the world like to be sadistic to children. I mean, that’s what gets them off.
CH: I want to ask two questions. First of all, there are--there were other major procurers, Sarah Kellen, Lesley Groff, Adriana Ross, Haley Robson, and others. None of them have been indicted. That’s the first question I have for you. And the second is what’s happened to all the surveillance video?
NB: Well, to answer the first question that shows another major miscarriage of justice, because Haley Robinson and Kellen and all should’ve been all indicted. If this was actually--if the justice forum was actually pursuing this case with the legitimacy that it pursued the mafia, all those procurers would’ve been indicted. And they could--they all could’ve been indicted on multiple counts of child trafficking which carry a sentence between 15 years to life. So they would all be indicted, and they--you could throw multiple counts of child trafficking at them. And then they would be looking at 300 years, 400 years, 500 years, because they were all involved in trafficking a lot of the girls, and then they would roll over on the big shots. But that isn’t happening. Only Ghislaine Maxwell is being--she’s the only one that’s been indicted which is another major miscarriage of justice. Because we know a number of procurers, the New York Times wrote an article naming a number of the procurers.
CH: What is it that would stop Maxwell from speaking about the role of Clinton or a Dershowitz or anyone else who allegedly was being offered these women by Epstein?
NB: Well, Maxwell knows--Maxwell was part and parcel of that whole operation. And she knows the kind of power that is--we’re dealing with the--with the apex of power. And I believe that she--it looks at this point like she is going to take the fall by herself. Her--and her trial has been really fishy. I mean, first it was like a year from the time that she was indicted they’ve had her in jail for a year, and it was supposed to start in July, but then it’s been pushed back another three months. So that--it’s not malfeasance, but it’s certainly fishy. Nothing in the Jeffrey Epstein story makes any sense if according to our laws and protocols of justice. Nothing makes any sense in the Jeffrey Epstein case.
CH: Let’s go back to the surveillance video. What--have you--do you have any idea what’s happened to that? Where it is?
NB: There was--when the--when the police raided Jeffrey Epstein’s house they came across a number of DVDs. And I think Epstein was involved in making child pornography. According to one of the victims that I talked to, he was certainly involved and there’s other accounts of Jeffrey Epstein making child pornography. So those DVDs and there’s also--there was a DVD that said, second such, and such, and such. So I think that Epstein in that--in his vault he might have had some blackmail material in addition to child pornography. But that was confiscated. And like everything in the--like all justice in the Jeffrey Epstein case went into a black hole and has yet to return.
CH: Can you talk about some of the high profile figures that we know something about? Prince Andrew would be one, Alan Dershowitz who has vehemently denied that he ever, in fact, he said he never travelled anywhere without his wife has denied although one of the girls has said that she was prostituted or forced to have sexual relations with Dershowitz. Was it six times or three times? I don’t remember. But talk about what we know about the interaction of some of these very high profile figures with Epstein.
NB: Well, Alan Dershowitz from the beginning when Epstein was first indicted, he was called in--he was one of the dream team of attorneys that was there to defend Jeffrey Epstein. And he scours the girl’s Facebook pages, and everything about them. So that he could ultimately show that--I mean, he tried to show that they were online. And Dershowitz is named by Virginia Giuffre as a perpetrator. And it’s interesting that Alfredo Rodriguez also circled Dershowitz’s name. And Dershowitz, he--there’s another woman that said that he had--that she had sex with Dershowitz. And then Maria Farmer said that Dershowitz when he would visit Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in New York City would go upstairs where the girls were. So there’s a tremendous amount of evidence that Dershowitz was involved with Jeffrey Epstein. And Dershowitz told the American lawyer that he never flew without his wife. But I had a bunch of passenger logs that shows Dershowitz flew with his--without his wife and flew with a woman named like Tatiana. And the article that I did write about Dershowitz and the flight logs, a number of names were tossed out at him. And then he just started making kind of jokes out of them. And he was--he was definitely nailed. And Dershowitz has a history. He wrote a op-ed for the LA Times and that 15-years-old should be the age of consent. And that anybody that’s--someone that is 50-years-old or a 60-years-old if they had sex with a 15-year-old there would be no problem. So Dershowitz has shown--he went after these girls very hard. Two of them have come forward and said that they had sex with Dershowitz. One kind of witnessed it. He circled by the house manager, he’s named by Virginia Giuffre. And he’s been on an offensive. And it’s really--with Dershowitz he’s either a good man trying to protect his name, or really a vile human being. That’s--that has no conscience whatsoever. And I’ll let your audience decide.
CH: Let me--Nick, just we have about a minute and a half. I want you to step back and tell our viewers what this says about the inner circle of power itself? Because this crosses lines, Republic--Trump, Clinton. I mean, Republican, Democrat don’t make any difference.
NB: I wrote a book called The Franklin Scandal. And it was very, very similar to what we have with Epstein. That book was published in 2009. And it showed a powerbroker pedophile network, kids were flown around, places were bugged for audio visual blackmail. There was a character very much like Jeffrey Epstein, his name was Craig Spence. So what it shows is--and this network was operational in the 80s. It was a bigger network than Epstein’s. Epstein’s was in business much longer than the network that I wrote about. But the network I wrote about was much bigger. And it shows--unfortunately, I believe it shows that blackmail is an endemic part of our political system. And if a politician is filmed having sex with a minor, that’s it. He’s owned. If he tried--it’s--a blackmail photographer who I got to for the book that I wrote said that these guys are on a yacht. And they can have anything on a yacht. And it’s a beautiful day. But if they decide to get off the yacht, then the people on the yacht are going to make sure that they drown. So none of these players that are compromised are going to do anything, they’re going to do what they’re told. And they’re not going to get off the yacht.
CH: And it’s just an updated version of what J. Edgar Hoover used to do in essence. So you have--let’s call it the deep state, intelligence agencies. It just becomes a mechanism of control, would that be a correct summation?
NB: Absolutely. What--Americans are very naive about blackmail in their political system. J. Edgar Hoover deployed blackmail. I mean, the CIA has deployed blackmail all over the world as has the KGB. What’s kind of interesting is Alexander Hamilton was having an affair with a 23-year-old who was married. And there was a muckraking journalist who outed Alexander Hamilton having that affair. And when Thomas Jefferson became President, the muckraking journalist felt that Jefferson owed him an appointment. And Jefferson wouldn’t, so he outed Jefferson on having sex with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, I believe. So--and Americans just don’t understand that political blackmail is a time honored tradition in the United States of America.
CH: That was Investigative Journalist Nick Bryant on the Jeffrey Epstein case.