Lawmakers Call for Congressional Investigations After Jeffrey Epstein’s Death

Lawmakers Call for Congressional Investigations After Jeffrey Epstein’s Death
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller (R) speaks as Jeffrey Epstein looks on during a a bail hearing in this court sketch in New York on July 15, 2019. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Janita Kan

U.S. Congress members are demanding answers after wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City at 6:30 a.m., the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The 66-year-old financier was awaiting trial on conspiracy and sex trafficking charges. Authorities said he sexually abused and exploited dozens of girls, some of them as young as 14.

“Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. Staff requested emergency medical services (EMS) and life-saving efforts continued. Mr. Epstein was transported by EMS to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, and subsequently pronounced dead by hospital staff,” the bureau said, adding that the FBI is investigating the matter.

Following the news, lawmakers have called for congressional investigations into sexual abuse, trafficking accusations, and a controversial plea deal in 2007.

“The death of Jeffrey #Epstein does not end the need for justice for his victims or the right of the public to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence,” Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) posted in a tweet following the news.

“With the obvious end to criminal proceedings against Epstein, it is important that the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform begin its investigation.”

However, federal prosecutors said in a statement on Aug. 10 that their office will continue probing into the Epstein case. They have also urged other potential victims to come forward.

“Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment–which included a conspiracy count–remains ongoing,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.

Similarly, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas)  called Epstein’s death an “impossibility” and called for a congressional probe.

“When an impossibility occurs involving powerful people and possible criminality there must be an investigation to end speculation,” Green wrote. “Because the public has a right to know, I’m calling for a congressional investigation.”

Other politicians have also weighed in on Epstein’s death, including Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) who called for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide answers over “systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims.”

“The victims of Epstein’s heinous actions deserved an opportunity for justice. Today, that opportunity was denied. The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims,” he said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also made a similar call. “We need answers. Lots of them,” she wrote on Twitter while posting a story about Epstein’s death. This prompted Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to agree, saying “Chairman @RepJerryNadler should prioritize a Judiciary investigation into how Jeffrey Epstein died in federal custody (in Nadler’s own neighborhood!) over the Kavanaugh confirmation (which already happened), and the Russia hoax (which never happened).”

Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) directed his attention to Attorney General William Barr in a letter (pdf) where he said the Department of Justice “should not have allowed this to happen.”

“His death not only deprives his victims of the opportunity to confront him in court and to see him held accountable for his crimes, but also makes it harder to unravel his ring and to hold accountable the many other powerful men who raped and exploited these children,” Sasse wrote, while asking the department a series of questions about the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death and about Epstein’s co-conspirators.

Along with lawmakers, President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani also raised questions about Epstein’s death.

“What does the word watch mean in the phrase suicide Watch? Who was watching? What does camera show? It is inconceivable Epstein could have hung himself if there was a suicide Watch? Follow the motives,” he wrote.

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing several of Epstein’s accusers, wrote on Twitter that her clients may bring civil actions against the financier’s estate.

“Predator Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. On behalf of the victims I represent, we would have preferred he lived to face justice. Our civil cases can still proceed against his estate. Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We’re just getting started,” she wrote.

In another post, she called for administrators of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate to freeze all his assets in anticipation for the civil suits.

“I am calling today for the administrators of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate to freeze all his assets and hold them for his victims who are filing civil cases. Their lives have been shattered by his sexual assaults, their careers derailed. They deserve full and fair compensation NOW,” she wrote.

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