President Donald Trump and 2020 Democrats reacted very differently to Jeffrey Epstein’s death this past weekend. While Trump retweeted a post promoting a conspiracy theory implicating Bill Clinton in the convicted sex offender’s apparent suicide, Democrats called for more investigations that could help shed light on what took place at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Specifically, Democratic presidential hopefuls want to know more about how Epstein, a financier that at times ran in the same social circles as Trump and Clinton, died while he was awaiting trial for dozens of sex trafficking charges.
“These survivors deserved a day in court, they deserved justice,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told CBS’s Face the Nation. “I do think there needs to be a full investigation about … why he was taken off the suicide watch list. … I want to know why he was left in a circumstance where suicide was even possible. I think it needs a full investigation.”
Epstein, who faced dozens of allegations of sexual abuse against underaged women, still had a lot to explain. Shortly before he died, thousands of records had been unsealed on Friday detailing allegations from a woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre who claimed Epstein had forced her to perform sexual acts on other powerful men while she was a teenager.
Epstein had also been placed on suicide watch prior to his death, and was recently taken off of it, according to a New York Times report. He was then not monitored as closely as jail procedures stipulate, the Times reported. Attorney General William Barr has said the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general will be conducting further investigations of how Epstein’s death transpired.
“I was appalled and frankly angry to learn of the (Metropolitan Correctional Center’s) failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” Barr said during a New Orleans speech on Monday, according to NBC News. ”We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.”
As their statements make clear, many 2020 Democrats are interested in interrogating those “irregularities”— but they also want to make sure Epstein’s death doesn’t sweep his crimes (and any possible crimes of his associates) under the rug.
Questions remain in the wake of Epstein’s death. 2020 Democrats are interested in getting answers.
As Vox’s Anna North reports, there are a number of questions that are still unanswered in the wake of Epstein’s death, and further investigation could help provide some clarity:
Several Democratic hopefuls are interested in understanding how his death occurred while he was in police custody and some, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have suggested that Congress could have a role in reviewing it.
“The bad guy died, but I think there were other bad people involved in this as well,” Klobuchar said during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair. “And I think we’ve got to, for the sake of the victims, we have to get to the bottom. Whether that involves a Senate hearing or not, it could, but I think for right now, we need an investigation.”
“The Trump administration has not handled this well from the very beginning,” former Vice President Joe Biden emphasized as part of his Iowa visit. “I do think in our prison system when someone is on suicide watch that should be carefully monitored.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are among the other Democratic candidates calling for additional reviews of the circumstances of Epstein’s death.
Warren noted that Epstein’s death occurred in a “system” that “broke down.”
“He should have been held for trial and his victims should have had a chance to testify against him,” she said. “There should have been a public airing of what happened, who helped him and who was involved in it. And now all that’s been cut off.”
Due to Epstein’s death, the federal criminal case against him has now concluded, though individuals are able to continue to file claims against his estate under civil court, CNN reports. Additionally, prosecutors could potentially go after other people associated with him, including those who have been linked with the sex trafficking charges he faced.