[Marxism] The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 13 08:49:12 MDT 2019


(The author is a renowned business journalist who covers Wall Street.)

NY Times, Aug. 13, 2019
The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People
By James B. Stewart

Almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, I visited Jeffrey Epstein 
at his cavernous Manhattan mansion.

The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute 
conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, 
famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed 
to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging 
or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual 
proclivities and recreational drug use.

So one of my first thoughts on hearing of Mr. Epstein’s suicide was that 
many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of 
relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him.

During our conversation, Mr. Epstein made no secret of his own 
scandalous past — he’d pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting 
prostitution from underage girls and was a registered sex offender — and 
acknowledged to me that he was a pariah in polite society. At the same 
time, he seemed unapologetic. His very notoriety, he said, was what made 
so many people willing to confide in him. Everyone, he suggested, has 
secrets and, he added, compared with his own, they seemed innocuous. 
People confided in him without feeling awkward or embarrassed, he claimed.

I’d never met Mr. Epstein before. I had contacted him because my 
colleagues and I had heard a rumor that he was advising Tesla’s 
embattled chief executive, Elon Musk, who was in trouble after 
announcing on Twitter that he had lined up the funding to take Tesla 
private.

The Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into Mr. 
Musk’s remarks, which moved markets but didn’t appear to have much basis 
in fact. There were calls for Mr. Musk to relinquish his position as 
Tesla’s chairman and for Tesla to recruit more independent directors. 
I’d heard that Mr. Epstein was compiling a list of candidates at Mr. 
Musk’s behest — and that Mr. Epstein had an email from Mr. Musk 
authorizing the search for a new chairman.

Mr. Musk and Tesla vehemently deny this. “It is incorrect to say that 
Epstein ever advised Elon on anything,” a spokeswoman for Mr. Musk, 
Keely Sulprizio, said Monday.

When I contacted Mr. Epstein, he readily agreed to an interview. The 
caveat was that the conversation would be “on background,” which meant I 
could use the information as long as I didn’t attribute it directly to 
him. (I consider that condition to have lapsed with his death.)

He insisted that I meet him at his house, which I’d seen referred to as 
the largest single-family home in Manhattan. This seems plausible: I 
initially walked past the building, on East 71st Street, because it 
looked more like an embassy or museum than a private home. Next to the 
imposing double doors was a polished brass plaque with the initials 
“J.E.” and a bell. After I rang, the door was opened by a young woman, 
her blond hair pulled back in a chignon, who greeted me with what 
sounded like an Eastern European accent.

I can’t say how old she was, but my guess would be late teens or perhaps 
20. Given Mr. Epstein’s past, this struck me as far too close to the 
line. Why would Mr. Epstein want a reporter’s first impression to be 
that of a young woman opening his door?

The woman led me up a monumental staircase to a room on the second floor 
overlooking the Frick museum across the street. It was quiet, the 
lighting dim, and the air-conditioning was set very low. After a few 
minutes, Mr. Epstein bounded in, dressed casually in jeans and a polo 
shirt, shook my hand and said he was a big fan of my work. He had a big 
smile and warm manner. He was trim and energetic, perhaps from all the 
yoga he said he was practicing. He was undeniably charismatic.

Before we left the room he took me to a wall covered with framed 
photographs. He pointed to a full-length shot of a man in traditional 
Arab dress. “That’s M.B.S.,” he said, referring to Mohammed bin Salman, 
the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The crown prince had visited him many 
times, and they spoke often, Mr. Epstein said.

He led me to a large room at the rear of the house. There was an 
expansive table with about 20 chairs. Mr. Epstein took a seat at the 
head, and I sat to his left. He had a computer, a small blackboard and a 
phone to his right. He said he was doing some foreign-currency trading.

Behind him was a table covered with more photographs. I noticed one of 
Mr. Epstein with former President Bill Clinton, and another of him with 
the director Woody Allen. Displaying photos of celebrities who had been 
caught up in sex scandals of their own also struck me as odd.

Mr. Epstein avoided specifics about his work for Tesla. He told me that 
he had good reason to be cryptic: Once it became public that he was 
advising the company, he’d have to stop doing so, because he was 
“radioactive.” He predicted that everyone at Tesla would deny talking to 
him or being his friend.

He said this was something he’d become used to, even though it didn’t 
stop people from visiting him, coming to his dinner parties or asking 
him for money. (That was why, Mr. Epstein told me without any trace of 
irony, he was considering becoming a minister so that his acquaintances 
would be confident that their conversations would be kept confidential.)

If he was reticent about Tesla, he was more at ease discussing his 
interest in young women. He said that criminalizing sex with teenage 
girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was 
perfectly acceptable. He pointed out that homosexuality had long been 
considered a crime and was still punishable by death in some parts of 
the world.

Mr. Epstein then meandered into a discussion of other prominent names in 
technology circles. He said people in Silicon Valley had a reputation 
for being geeky workaholics, but that was far from the truth: They were 
hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs. He said he’d 
witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex (Mr. 
Epstein stressed that he never drank or used drugs of any kind).

I kept trying to steer the conversation back to Tesla, but Mr. Epstein 
remained evasive. He said he’d spoken to the Saudis about possibly 
investing in Tesla, but he wouldn’t provide any specifics or names. When 
I pressed him on the purported email from Mr. Musk, he said the email 
wasn’t from Mr. Musk himself, but from someone very close to him. He 
wouldn’t say who that person was. I asked him if that person would talk 
to me, and he said he’d ask. He later said the person declined; I doubt 
he asked.

When I later reflected on our interview, I was struck by how little 
information Mr. Epstein had actually provided. While I can’t say 
anything he said was an explicit lie, much of what he said was vague or 
speculative and couldn’t be proved or disproved. He did have at least 
some ties to Mr. Musk — a widely circulated photo shows Mr. Musk with 
Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s confidante and former companion, at the 
2014 Vanity Fair Oscars party.

“Ghislaine simply inserted herself behind him in a photo he was posing 
for without his knowledge,” Ms. Sulprizio, the spokeswoman for Mr. Musk, 
said.

It seemed clear Mr. Epstein had embellished his role in the Tesla 
situation to enhance his own importance and gain attention — something 
that now seems to have been a pattern.

About a week after that interview, Mr. Epstein called and asked if I’d 
like to have dinner that Saturday with him and Woody Allen. I said I’d 
be out of town. A few weeks after that, he asked me to join him for 
dinner with the author Michael Wolff and Donald J. Trump’s former 
adviser, Steve Bannon. I declined. (I don’t know if these dinners 
actually happened. Mr. Bannon has said he didn’t attend. Mr. Wolff and a 
spokeswoman for Mr. Allen didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday.)

Several months passed. Then early this year Mr. Epstein called to ask if 
I’d be interested in writing his biography. He sounded almost plaintive. 
I sensed that what he really wanted was companionship. As his 
biographer, I’d have no choice but to spend hours listening to his saga. 
Already leery of any further ties to him, I was relieved I could say 
that I was already busy with another book.

That was the last I heard from him. After his arrest and suicide, I’m 
left to wonder: What might he have told me?



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