Aug 11, 2019

Trump retweets baseless conspiracy theory tying Epstein death to Clintons

President Trump on Saturday evening retweeted an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory by conservative actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams suggesting that the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein was somehow tied to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Why it matters: This is not the first time the president has amplified baseless conspiracy theories, having risen to political prominence in part thanks to the "birther" campaign that claimed President Obama was not born in the United States. Trump also suggested during the 2016 presidential campaign that Sen. Ted Cruz's father was somehow involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Reality check: In addition to the unsubstantiated claims of ties between Epstein's death and the Clintons, Williams' tweet also falsely claimed that Epstein was on suicide watch.

  • Officials said that Epstein was under extra security in a special unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center after being found with injuries on his neck last month, but was no longer under suicide watch at the time of his death.

Clinton press secretary Angel Ureña responded to Trump on Twitter: "Ridiculous, and of course not true — and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?"

  • The White House did not respond to requests for comment, and the Justice Department declined to comment, per the Washington Post.

Go deeper: What we know about the life and death of Jeffrey Epstein

Go deeper

What we know: The life and death of Jeffrey Epstein

A protest group called "Hot Mess" holds signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the Federal courthouse on July 8. Photo: Stephanie Keith / Stringer/Getty Images.

Federal prosecutors charged multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein with sexual abuse and sex trafficking of underage girls in July. On Aug. 10, the 66-year-old was found dead in an apparent suicide at a federal detention center in New York City.

The latest: After alleged victims and their attorneys testified at a hearing on Aug. 27, a federal judge formally closed the criminal sex trafficking case against Epstein Aug. 29. Meanwhile, prosecutors in France opened a preliminary investigation into Epstein, "in connection with possible offenses such as rape, the sexual assault of minors and criminal conspiracy" in late August.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 22, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein dead in apparent suicide

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.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 12, 2019

AG Bill Barr removes acting Bureau of Prisons director after Epstein death

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Bar has ordered the removal of acting director of the Bureau of Prisons Hugh Hurwitz following the suicide of alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The big picture: Barr has previously said there were "serious irregularities" at the MCC and that the Justice Department will ensure that those responsible for the oversight are held accountable. Barr has appointed Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Thomas Kane as deputy director. Hawk Sawyer previously served as director of the bureau from 1992 to 2003.

Go deeperArrowAug 19, 2019