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Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and registered sex offender accused of sex trafficking female minors, is dead in an apparent suicide at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The latest: Law enforcement officials said Epstein, 66, hanged himself and was found in his jail cell Saturday about 7:30am. Attorney General Bill Barr asked the inspector general to open an investigation into Epstein's death, as the FBI conducts its own investigation. Authorities investigated a previous suicide attempt in July. An autopsy was performed on his body, officials said Sunday, without releasing details, per AP.

  • Epstein was under extra security in a special unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, but not under suicide watch, a prison official told the Times.
  • Epstein's first court appearance was July 31, wherein a federal judge set a tentative trial date for his sex-trafficking case for mid-2020.
"Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing."
— Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, in a statement on Saturday

Context: Epstein was accused of sex trafficking minors, witness tampering and paying underage girls hundreds of dollars to engage in sexual acts. He also allegedly asked them to recruit others.

A collection of previously sealed legal documents was released on Friday by a federal appeals court, publicly divulging new details on how Epstein and his associates allegedly recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.

  • Epstein avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after taking a plea deal that involved then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. Acosta was confirmed as Labor Secretary in the Trump administration. He has since resigned.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for anyone in distress, in addition to prevention and crisis resources. Also available for online chat.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest developments on the autopsy and to reflect that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Go deeper: What we know about the Jeffrey Epstein indictment

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

3 hours ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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