Since Jeffrey Epstein’s latest arrest on sex trafficking charges, a who’s who of the rich and powerful have rushed to downplay their associations with the financier who is accused of abusing underaged girls.
Now Chelsea Clinton has joined her ex-president father on this who’s who list. Her representative issued a statement to Politico over the weekend denying reports that the former First Daughter was close friends with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and the alleged “madam” who has been accused of helping him procure underaged girls for sex
Politico’s report on Maxwell, 57, focuses on how the daughter of the late British publishing mogul Robert Maxwell helped Epstein, the Brooklyn-born son of a New York City parks groundskeeper, gain access to social circles that allowed him to become friendly with two U.S. presidents, billionaire business moguls, America’s media elite and at least one member of the British royal family.
Maxwell has not been criminally charged, but has settled two lawsuits filed by women who say she participated in Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking, the New York Times reported last week. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Politico said Maxwell first grew close to the Clinton family after former president Bill Clinton left office, and eventually became friends with Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. According to the news outlet, the two women vacationed together on a yacht in 2009, and Maxwell attended Chelsea’s wedding to Marc Mezvinsky in 2010, Politico reported. A photo of Maxwell at the wedding has circulated online.
Maxwell also participated in the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative as recently as 2013, through The TerraMar Project, an oceanic non-profit she founded, according to the Initiative’s website. The contacts between Chelsea Clinton and Maxwell appear to have occurred after Maxwell’s 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 told Politico. “She ended up being close to the family because she and Chelsea ended up becoming close.”
Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment about her friendship with the Clinton family.
In their statement to Politico, the spokesperson for Chelsea Clinton and her husband emphasized that the couple were not aware of Maxwell’s alleged involvement in Epstein’s sex trafficking operation when they socialized with her.
“It wasn’t until 2015 that Chelsea and (her husband) Marc became aware of the horrific allegations against Ghislaine Maxwell and hope that all the victims find justice,” Chelsea Clinton’s chief of staff, Bari Lurie, told Politico. “Chelsea and Marc were friendly with her because of her relationship with a dear friend of theirs. When that relationship ended, Chelsea and Marc’s friendship with her ended as well.”
After Bill Clinton left office, he traveled on Epstein’s private plane anywhere from 11 to 26 times through 2003, Gawker and Fox News reported in 2015 and 2016, respectively, citing flight logs. The destinations included Asia, London, New York, Russia and Africa.
In a statement posted to Twitter earlier this month, a spokesperson for Bill Clinton sought to downplay the former president’s travels with Epstein, saying he only took “a total of four trips” in 2002 and 2003, and that the trips were in connection with the Clinton Foundation.
“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said in the statement.
The former president also made “one brief visit” to Epstein’s apartment in New York — alongside a “staff member and his security detail” — in 2002, according to Urena’s statement, and the met at Clinton’s Harlem office “around the same time” as the apartment visit. Bill Clinton has not spoken to Epstein in “well over a decade,” the statement said.
The allegations against Epstein — and subsequently Maxwell –first began to surface in 2005 when a woman contacted Florida’s Palm Beach Police Department to say that her 14-year-old daughter was taken to Epstein’s mansion to give him a massage. The FBI joined the investigation and uncovered dozens of underaged girls who said they had been sexually abused by Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting sex from a minor under a controversial non-prosecution deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami. Under the deal, Epstein was sentenced to serve just 13 months in the local county jail, and allowed to go to work at his office.
The following year, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, filed a lawsuit against him. She alleged that she was 15 years old and working as a locker room attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort when Maxwell recruited her to work for Epstein. Giuffre claims Epstein sexually abused her and directed her to have sex with his powerful friends, including Prince Andrew.
In October 2009, Maxwell was again in the news in connection with Epstein’s alleged abuse of underaged girls. While she was leaving a Clinton Global Initiatives Conference in New York City, she was served with a subpoena from a lawyer representing some of Epstein’s accusers, the lawyer, Brad Edwards, told Page Six
In 2012, Maxwell launched the TerraMar Project, an environmental nonprofit focused on protecting oceans. The organization received a shout-out from the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting the following year for its commitment to the Initiative’s Sustainable Oceans Alliance, which is aimed at securing healthy oceans under United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
A week after Epstein’s arrest earlier this month, the TerraMar Project announced it was closing down, posting this announcement on its website:
“The TerraMar Project is sad to announce that it will cease all operations. The website will be closed. TerraMar’s mission has always been to connect ocean lovers to positive actions, highlight science, and bring conscious change to how to people from across the globe can live, work and enjoy the ocean. TerraMar wants to thank all its supporters, partners and fellow ocean lovers.”
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