How did wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein come to be palling around with Bill Clinton and Donald Trump?
People who know those involved said Epstein’s connections to two U.S. presidents ran through one bubbly British heiress: Ghislaine Maxwell.
Maxwell, who has denied accusations made in civil suits of aiding and participating in Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors, has been among the financier’s closest associates. Unlike Epstein, she comes from a rarefied background that gave her entrée to the rich and powerful.
For years, beginning in the early ’90s, she and Epstein cut glittering figures on the Manhattan, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla., social circuits, with Maxwell taking the lead. While people who knew Epstein in Palm Beach described him as “very odd” and said “he didn’t go out much,” those who know Maxwell described her as “vivacious,” “warm” and “effusive.”
Her family knew Trump before Epstein arrived on the scene, and she continued to socialize with Chelsea Clinton after Epstein was jailed on sex offenses.
Maxwell first grew close with the Clintons after Bill Clinton left office, vacationing on a yacht with Chelsea Clinton in 2009, attending her wedding in 2010, and participating in the Clinton Global Initiative as recently as 2013, years after her name first emerged in accounts of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse.
“Ghislaine was the contact between Epstein and Clinton,” a person familiar with the relationship said. “She ended up being close to the family because she and Chelsea ended up becoming close.” Lawyers for Maxwell did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Clinton disputed the idea that the two women were ever close.
Trump’s ties to Maxwell and her late father, the publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, meanwhile, go back even further, to at least the late 1980s.
“He really likes her,” said Steven Hoffenberg, a former mentor to Epstein who pleaded guilty in 1995 to running a massive Ponzi scheme, of Trump and Maxwell. “He was friendly with her father.”
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