Rarely in American life—especially during the Trump era—have we had a case in which people from all over the political spectrum agreed that something just isn’t right. Granted, our two perpetually warring tribes have arrived at predictably opposite conclusions, with one side blaming President Trump and the other pointing to the Clintons, but the one thing we can all agree on is the woeful inadequacy of the simple suicide explanation.
I’m not going to attempt a “big picture” analysis in this piece because it’s impossible to attain, at least at this point. What I will do is give an update on the facts we have regarding Epstein’s death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. I’ll be posting updates such as these as the facts roll in, hopefully accumulating enough knowledge to formulate a bonafide theory as to what really happened.
Here is the latest as I understand it.
The Crime(?) Scene
According to the multiple outlets, Epstein’s cell was not checked for hours before he was discovered unresponsive on Saturday morning with a bed sheet around his neck. Officials blamed overworked staff and a lack of resources for the failure to adequately monitor Epstein.
He was placed on suicide watch on July 23 when he was found semi-conscious in his cell with bruises on his neck. But he was taken off suicide watch a week later and returned to the special housing unit, where he was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes. Again, MCC is blaming the failure to properly check Epstein’s cell on a severe staff shortage, along with overworked prison officers. MCC union officials say they’re functioning with less than 70% of the correctional officers it needs.
Additionally, Epstein should have had a cellmate in the special housing unit, but on Friday that person was transferred, and at the time of his death Epstein was in his cell alone. Nicholas Tartaglione, a 51-year-old former New York City police officer awaiting trial for allegedly kidnapping and murdering four men, had been Epstein’s cellmate, but some time before his death, Tartaglione was housed elsewhere.
E.O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33, which represents prison guards, says that there was speculation that Epstein was in fear of Tartaglione and was trying to get away from him. Young added that he believed that, at least for a time, Epstein had another cellmate after coming off suicide watch.
The cause of Epstein’s death has not yet been officially announced. An autopsy was conducted on Epstein on Sunday, but Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, said her office had not yet reached a determination on cause of death “pending further information.” I’m not doctor so I don’t purport to know exactly what to infer from that statement, but I take it to mean that they can’t conclusively determine whether asphyxiation was self-afflicted.
There is no clarity over whether or not Epstein’s cell and/or the hallways around the cell were covered by CCTV cameras. Union officials have told several different outlets that there are many cameras in the MCC, but that they don’t typically cover inmate’s cells. All the same, if hallways are sufficiently covered, we should be able to make a determination as to whether anyone else was present in Epstein’s cell.
Epstein’s death is not the end of the investigation into his sex trafficking crimes — in fact, investigators are widening the probe to look at those who facilitated Epstein’s operation, including a staff of recruiters and employees who helped procure underage girls for him.
The probe is also likely to investigate politicians and celebrities who have been accused by victims of also abusing underage girls. In 2016, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, accused financier Glenn Dubin, former Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, who is now dead, of sexual abuse.
The main fact that the head of the conspiracy has been lopped off or died does not negate the fact that others can be charged. Conspiracy is just a secret agreement between two or more persons. Epstein may have been the ringleader of that conspiracy (though I doubt it) but nevertheless, the other persons are involved in that conspiracy and just as culpable.
Believe him or not, AG Barr has signaled anger toward what happened at MCC and seems headstrong about learning what happened.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said on Monday. “There will be accountability.”
“Let me assure you that case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” and that “any co-conspirators should not rest easy. Victims deserve justice and will get it,” Barr continued.
According to the Failing Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors with the Southern District of New York subpoenaed Epstein’s personal pilots earlier this month. It’s not yet clear what information the investigators are looking for, who all was subpoenaed, or whether pilots are cooperating. But the pilots could, for example, have access to the travel logs of all the people who boarded Epstein’s two private jets between 2002 and 2005, the years Epstein is accused of running a multistate sex trafficking scheme.
The FBI also raided Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Island,” sparking speculation as to the reasoning and timing of the raid. One possible explanation deals with the newfound access to evidence. The evidence that they’ve seized from him directly, the only person who can contest the seizure could be Epstein or somebody who lived with him. Now that he’s dead, he can’t challenge that. All of that potential evidence has become fair game.
Parallel federal investigations in Epstein’s death have been launched at the MCC in New York City.
There are still far more questions than answers regarding this case and that may be true for a long time. If my personal hunch that Epstein was involved with a major intelligence service is proved accurate, it means that the truth will be even murkier and harder to attain than we’d expected.
Let’s hope that AG Barr is true to his word and remains determined to get to the bottom of this. The one thing we know for sure is he is up against formidable enemies.
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