Columnist: Epstein Said He Had Dirt on Powerful People

August 13, 2019 Updated: August 13, 2019

A New York Times columnist said that one year ago he visited the “cavernous Manhattan mansion” of Jeffrey Epstein for a conversation with the disgraced multi-millionaire, who was found dead in a jail cell over the weekend.

“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,” James B. Stewart wrote for the Times.

Stewart said that Epstein, 66, “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.”

The Hewitt School, an all-girls’ school located blocks from Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion in New York on July 11, 2019. (Kathy Willens/AP Photo)

When Stewart learned about the death of the disgraced financier, who was accused of child sex trafficking, one of his first thoughts, according to him “was that many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him.”

In their conversation, Epstein didn’t try to cover up his scandalous past. He pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution from underage girls and was a registered sex offender.

He noted that Epstein, however, appeared to be “unapologetic” and added that his status as a high-profile sex offender “was what made so many people willing to confide in him.”

This July 11, 2019, photo shows the entrance to Bard High School, a public college prep high school with ties to Bard College, on the Lower East Side of New York. (Kathy Willens/AP Photo)

“Everyone, he suggested, has secrets and, he added, compared with his own, they seemed innocuous,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the interview, Epstein was “at ease discussing his interest in young women,” adding that “criminalizing sex with teenage girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was perfectly acceptable.”

Stewart said he noticed pictures inside of Epstein’s mansion office.

A policeman stands at the courthouse ahead of a bail hearing in US financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking case in New York City on July 15, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

“I noticed one of Mr. Epstein with former President Bill Clinton, and another of him with the director Woody Allen,” wrote Stewart. “Displaying photos of celebrities who had been caught up in sex scandals of their own also struck me as odd.”

Focus on Co-Conspirators

Two days after the wealthy financier’s death in the New York jail where he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, Attorney General William Barr warned on Monday that “any co-conspirators should not rest easy.”

“Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit,” Barr said at a law enforcement conference in New Orleans. “The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”

epstein island raided
A structure on Little Saint James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands on July 9, 2019. The island is owned by Jeffrey Epstein. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)

Authorities are most likely turning their attention to the team of recruiters and employees who, according to police reports, knew about Epstein’s penchant for underage girls and lined up victims for him. The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of pages of police reports, FBI records and court documents that show Epstein relied on an entire staff of associates to arrange massages that led to sex acts.

If any Epstein assistants hoped to avoid charges by testifying against him, that expectation has been upended by his suicide.

Epstein’s former girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, was described in a 2017 lawsuit as the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking enterprise. She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit said.

A protest group called “Hot Mess” hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the Federal courthouse in New York City on July 8, 2019. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Representatives of Maxwell have not responded to requests for comment. In sworn statements, she has denied any wrongdoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.