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Trump asked aides if Ghislaine Maxwell had mentioned him after her arrest

In her book Confidence Man, Maggie Haberman writes that Mr Trump queried aides about the now-convicted sex trafficker during an Oval Office meeting

Andrew Feinberg
Tuesday 04 October 2022 04:31 BST
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The arrest of notorious paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate Ghislane Maxwell left former president Donald Trump anxious that she might raise his name to investigators or the press, according to a new book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, which The Independent obtained ahead of publication.

In Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, Ms Haberman writes that the then-president’s mind became occupied by a July 2020 story in the New York Post about Maxwell’s arrest on sex trafficking charges.

The Post report, authored by Page Six gossip column editor Emily Smith, quoted an associate of Epstein (who hanged himself in federal custody in 2019) as describing Maxwell as believing herself to be “protected by the intelligence communities she and [Epstein] helped with information ... by Prince Andrew, President Clinton and even by President Trump,” whom the Epstein associate described as having been “well-known to be an acquaintance of her and Epstein’s”.

According to Ms Haberman, Mr Trump queried his advisers about the Post story during a meeting in the Oval Office, asking: “You see that article in the Post today that mentioned me?”

After his aides reacted with silence, Mr Trump pressed them further about Maxwell, who was at that moment a prisoner in the custody of the Department of Justice.

“She say anything about me?” he asked.

The disgraced socialite, whose late father was press baron and onetime Labour MP Robert Maxwell, recieved a 20-year prison sentence after she was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking following a trial in December 2021. She remains in federal custody and never offered any cooperation with prosecutors, nor did she utter Mr Trump’s name in her defence.

The former president was a longtime associate of Epstein and Maxwell, and was famously videotaped at a party discussing the appearance of young girls who were present during a conversation with the late paedophile.

Despite the seriousness of the charges brought against her by the government he led at the time, Mr Trump may have retained some fondness for Maxwell, who was at his Mar-a-Lago club often enough to allegedly recruit young girls for Epstein (an allegation made against her by one of Epstein’s victims).

At a White House news conference following her arrest, Mr Trump was asked about the case against her.

The then-president stunned reporters by replying: “I haven't really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly”.

“I've met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they [Maxwell and Epstein] lived in Palm Beach,” he said. “But I wish her well, whatever it is”.

In an interview with New York magazine, Mr Trump called Epstein, the notorious abuser of young girls, a “terrific guy” who was “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,” Mr Trump said.

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