Despite huge anticipation that Ghislaine Maxwell would name names from her ‘little black book’ during her sex trafficking trial, the socialite’s powerful friends largely avoided scrutiny after judge’s warning to avoid ‘needless’ name-dropping
When Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 in her rural New Hampshire hideaway, the socialite received a surprisingly sympathetic message from an old friend at the White House.
“I wish her well,” Donald Trump said from the briefing room podium a few weeks later when asked about sex trafficking charges that federal prosecutors had laid against Ms Maxwell.
“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is,” the former president added.
Mr Trump had reportedly been asking aides whether Ms Maxwell was likely to “roll” on anybody”.
Barely two weeks later in an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Mr Trump doubled down on those remarks.
Asked why he would wish such a person well, Mr Trump replied: “Her boyfriend was either killed or committed suicide in jail. She’s now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well.”
Ms Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of five of the six federal charges against her on Wednesday, including sex trafficking and transporting a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. She was found not guilty of “enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.”
Jeffrey Epstein had died by suicide in July 2019 while awaiting trial on his own sex trafficking charges.
It was well known that Mr Trump had enjoyed a long relationship with the pair, who prosecutor say were “partners in crime” in grooming and sexually abusing young girls between 1994 and 2004.
There were numerous photographs of Mr Trump socialising with Ms Maxwell out on the town in New York, at Anand Jon’s September 2000 fashion show, and another with Melania Trump and Epstein at Mar-a-Largo the same year.
In an interview with New York Magazine in 2002, Mr Trump described Epstein as a “terrific guy”.
“He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
After Epstein’s arrest in 2019 for sex trafficking, footage resurfaced from November 1992 showing Mr Trump partying with Epstein at Mar-a-Lago estate.
Mr Trump was quoted as saying he was “not a fan” of Epstein’s and hadn’t spoken to the paedophile for 15 years.
When Ms Maxwell’s trial finally began, there was high anticipation that Ms Maxwell would reveal details about the powerful friends whose names and addresses filled her “little black book”.
But it appears to have been mostly scuppered by an instruction from Judge Alison Nathan to avoid “needless” name-dropping, and famous contacts like former presidents Bill Clinton and Mr Trump were only mentioned fleetingly during the trial.
When Mr Trump’s name did come up, it seemed to be Ms Maxwell’s lawyers who wanted to push some of those names from her “little black book” into the spotlight.
During cross-examination by Christian Everdell, Epstein’s longtime pilot Larry Visoski, told how former presidents Mr Trump and Mr Clinton, disgraced actor Kevin Spacey and Prince Andrew had been regular passengers onboard Epstein’s private jets.
Then the accuser who testified under the pseudonym “Jane” said she was introduced to Mr Trump at the age of 14 after being taken to Mar-a-Lago by Epstein, again under cross-examination.
“Mr Epstein introduced you to Donald Trump, correct?” Laura Menninger, Ms Maxwell’s defense attorney, asked.
“Yes,” Jane replied.
There was no suggestion of any inappropriate behaviour by the former president.
Jane also testified she took part in a Miss Teen USA beauty pageant in 1998, which was owned by the Trump Organization from 1996 to 2015.
Flight logs released by the US District Attorney’s Office the day before the jury was sent out to deliberate revealed Mr Trump was a frequent flyer on board Epstein’s private jet in 1993 and ‘94.
A passenger list shows on 23 March 1993, Mr Trump and Epstein flew from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Palm Beach with Erin Nance, a former Miss Georgia who competed in the 1993 Miss USA beauty pageant.
Three days later, Epstein and Mr Trump made the return journey to Teterboro, the preferred private airport for wealthy New Yorkers, without Ms Nance.
On 11 October of 1993, Mr Trump is named as a passenger on a flight from Palm Beach to Teterboro along with Epstein, Ms Maxwell, both indicated by their initials, and two other people referred to as “DD” and “SB”.
Six days after that flight, Mr Trump is listed as returning to Teterboro on a flight with Epstein, Ms Maxwell, and others mentioned by their initials.
On 15 May 1994, Mr Trump is listed as flying on Epstein’s Hawker Siddeley jet with his then wife Marla, their daughter Tiffany and Mark Middleton, an aide to president Bill Clinton.
The Daily Mail obtained visitor logs to the Clinton White House which showed Epstein visited the presidential mansion 17 times during his first term in office.
At Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, the former house manager Juan Alessi testified that there were photographs of his boss and Ms Maxwell with Pope John Paul II hanging on the walls.
Another showed Epstein with Fidel Castro.
Ms Maxwell’s jury was shown photographs of her and Epstein in exotic locations all over the world, including the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland.
But during her closing statement, defence attorney Laura Menninger criticised prosecutors for not releasing more of the 38,000 seized by the FBI from Epstein’s New York home in 2019.
“Where are the other 31,960 photos? Who was in those photos? Was it other girlfriends? Other women?”
Should Ms Maxwell be found guilty she is reportedly considering “naming names” to try to secure a shorter sentence, a legal source told The Mail.