The mere fact that Donald Trump’s old friend Jeffrey Epstein was arrested this weekend on charges of sex trafficking of minors doesn’t automatically make it a Trump scandal. But when you throw in the fact that Trump rewarded the prosecutor who initially let Epstein off the hook, and public remarks that Trump and Epstein have made about each other and young women over the years, this is definitely a Trump scandal. The thing is, Epstein’s radioactivity is quickly spreading far and wide beyond Trump.
Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who was the prosecutor who gave Epstein an absurdly lenient plea deal a decade ago, is just barely hanging onto his job. Acosta should also be worried about more than just his job, as the SDNY Public Corruption Unit is handling the Epstein case. In addition, it’s now being reported that current Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance tried to get leniency for Epstein, which could be the final nail in the coffin of Vance’s increasingly scandalous tenure.
But there’s more to this. Donald Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, who never met a conflict of interest that he didn’t love, used a comparatively minor indirect connection to Epstein as an excuse to recuse himself from the case today. When a case is toxic enough for Barr to want to distance himself, that tells you quite a lot. In fact the Miami Herald reporter who broke the Epstein-Acosta story, is now saying that a number of “powerful” and “important” names are caught up in the Epstein scandal, all of which will presumably come out.
The bottom line is that the Jeffrey Epstein scandal is so horrifyingly awful, the ramifications are going to run deep and wide. He wasn’t running a sex trafficking ring across state lines by himself, so plenty of people are going down with him, whether they participated in the sex crimes, or helped arrange them, or corruptly helped cover them up. This is bigger than any one person. It’s bigger than even Donald Trump – but it could end up being the kind of toxically radioactive scandal that could finally take Trump down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report