Hours after Jeffrey Epstein was arraigned Monday on several sex-trafficking charges, former President Bill Clinton publicly downplayed his relationship with the pedophile financier, saying he knew nothing of his “terrible crimes” since they only met “briefly” on two occasions.
But a 1995 newspaper clipping—first discovered by Snopes—shows Epstein was on the guest list for a “small dinner party” and fundraiser hosted by Revlon beauty mogul Ron Perelman for the Democratic National Committee. The former president’s press shop did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
In his Monday statement, Clinton said he only had “one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002, and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein’s New York apartment with a staff member and his security detail.”
“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,” the statement said. “He‘s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”
The March 31, 1995 issue of the Palm Beach Post reported Epstein was one of 14 guests invited to Clinton’s fundraising dinner at Perelman’s Palm Beach home Casa Apava. After a full day of campaigning in Florida and a round of golf, the article stated, Clinton arrived at the mansion “on an island that reaches from the ocean to the Intracoastal” for the “three-hour dinner.”
Among the guest list: singer Jimmy Buffett (who was a late addition), Miami Vice actor Don Johnson, actor Michael Douglas’ then-wife Deandra, DNC co-chair Don Fowler, business executive Bob Kanuth, and Clinton’s college friend and the dinner’s organizer Paul Prosperi.
To attend, the Palm Beach Post reported, each guest donated $100,000 to the DNC.
Clinton’s Monday statement also insisted he only took “a total of four trips” with Epstein in 2002 and 2003—to Europe, Asia and Africa—“which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation.” During “every leg of the trip,” Clinton said, he was with staff, foundation supporters, and Secret Service agents.
It is not immediately clear how many flights were involved in each trip or how that number would square with flight logs that reportedly show Clinton on 26 flights on Epstein’s plane between 2001 and 2003. In 2015, Gawker reported that one of those trips included a 2002 domestic flight Clinton and his Secret Service detail took from Miami to Westchester County, with Epstein also on board.
Clinton’s press department did not respond to the The Daily Beast’s request for comment on whether this was trip was part of one of the four trips previously accounted for.
On the first Asia trip, according to the flight logs, show Clinton and Epstein were also joined by top Clinton aide Doug Band, Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and his former assistant Sarah Kellen. Also among the list are two women only named as “Janice” and “Jessica.”
According to the Miami Herald, court records described Maxwell “as using recruiters positioned throughout the world to lure women by promising them modeling assignments, educational opportunities, and fashion careers" and that “the pitch was really a ruse to groom them into sex trafficking.” Other court documents listed Kellen as one of Epstein’s “potential co-conspirators” and was granted immunity in his 2007 controversial plea agreement with Florida federal prosecutors.
The non-prosecution agreement Epstein’s lawyers agreed upon with prosecutors sentenced the financier to an 18-month prison term (of which he only served 13 and and was allowed to leave for work every day) and made him register as a sex offender.
Epstein was arrested Saturday by federal authorities in New York and charged Monday with sex-trafficking crimes after allegedly luring girls with cash to his Manhattan mansion before sexually abusing them. The new claims, to which Epstein pleaded not guilty, allege that he “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes” in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. The allegations are almost identical to those made in Florida.
Monday’s statement also did not mention Clinton’s financial ties to Epstein. As The Daily Beast reported, a former charity of Epstein’s, the C.O.U.Q. Foundation, donated $25,000 to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charity in 2006 and was recently listed among past and present donors on the Clinton Foundation’s website.