Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The Justice Department has formally requested an interview with Prince Andrew as part of its criminal investigation into the alleged sex trafficking ring operated by Jeffrey Epstein, according to multiple reports.

Why it matters: Federal prosecutors and the FBI say they have contacted Prince Andrew's lawyer several times asking for information about his relationship with Epstein, and they claimed in March that the Duke of York has "completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation."

  • Prince Andrew's legal team fired back on Monday and claimed that he "has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ."
  • "Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero cooperation," Prince Andrew's legal team said in a statement. "In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman released the following statement Monday after pushback from Prince Andrew's legal team:

Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offenses committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the Prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally — through the very same counsel who issued today’s release — that he would not come in for such an interview.
If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open, and we await word of when we should expect him.

The big picture: Berman would not comment on whether the office was corresponding with the U.K. for a mutual legal assistance treaty request, which would be similar to a subpoena.

  • During an investigation or prosecution of criminal offenses, countries can ask for assistance from another country through this request.
  • Prince Andrew's legal team told CNN Monday that the DOJ has informed them he "is not and has never been a 'target' of their criminal investigations into Epstein" and said that "any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing."

Background: During an interview with the BBC in November, Andrew denied having a sexual relationship with one of Epstein’s accusers, as she has claimed. He stepped away from royal duties last year after the allegations.

Go deeper

Deutsche Bank pays New York $150 million for dealings with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay the state of New York a $150 million penalty for "significant compliance failures" related to its dealings with now-dead convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the State Department of Financial Services announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Deutsche Bank "failed to properly monitor account activity conducted on behalf of the registered sex offender despite ample" public information about Epstein's criminal history, according to regulators. It's the first time any financial institution has been penalized for its dealings with Epstein.

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In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.