While Jeffrey Epstein has widely been reported to be a billionaire, this reputation appears to be a myth, according to a detailed New York Times report published Wednesday night. The story also revealed that Epstein has been a client of Deutsche Bank, the embattled institution facing waves of controversy in recent months and years.
Epstein has come under new scrutiny after being indicted last weekend by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on sex trafficking charges. The case revives accusations that were put to bed by a controversial non-prosecution agreement overseen in 2008 by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was then a U.S. attorney. Epstein’s case has also drawn public interest because of his many ties to prominent politicians and public figures, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
The new Times report casts doubt on the idea that Epstein is a prodigious financial wizard — or even a member of the super rich in American society. One of the most eye-popping rumors about Epstein, for instance, has been that he was so elite that he refused to manage investments from people that were under $1 billion.
“Much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire,” the Times reported.
Mr. Epstein’s wealth may have depended less on his math acumen than his connections to two men — Steven J. Hoffenberg, a onetime owner of The New York Post and a notorious fraudster later convicted of running a $460 million Ponzi scheme, and Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of retail chains including The Limited and the chief executive of the company that owns Victoria’s Secret.
Of course, the truth isn’t that Epstein is secretly destitute — it just that he’s likely not as rich as he appeared.
“His real estate alone — one of Manhattan’s largest private mansions, a Palm Beach estate, a Paris apartment, his own Caribbean island and a huge New Mexico ranch — is worth more than $200 million. His investment firm reported having $88 million in capital from its shareholders in 2002,” the Times reported.
The other curious fact uncovered in the story is Epstein’s connection to Deutsche Bank, an institution that has frequently popped up in reporting about Trump’s questionable financial history. The bank has also come under fire for its own shady practices, and it has been caught in a Russian money laundering scheme.
According to the Times, Epstein became a client of the bank’s private banking division in recent years, though it’s unclear how much his accounts were worth. Officials in the bank were reportedly worried about the possible reputation damage Epstein could bring — he remains a registered sex offender — but these concerns were overruled. But the bank recently ended its relationship with Epstein, the report found.
Rick Santorum starts shouting about Joe Biden after being unable to defend Trump’s Ukraine scheme
After Tuesday's impeachment testimony, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to defend President Donald Trump's Ukraine scheme to a CNN panel — and was reduced to shouting about former Vice President Joe Biden as his co-panelists tore down his arguments.
"Every one of the people there had the same thing, which is to change the Obama policy, which was leaving Ukrainians without any way to defend themselves ... we have [Trump] in there and fighting for Ukraine and now the Democrats are saying, well, this is wonderful, BUT..."
"Let me just ask you the question," said former Obama strategist David Axelrod. "Because this lethal aid has been important, it gives them quite a bit of leverage, the president, if he wants them."
Sondland is in ‘tremendous trouble’ no matter how he tries to change his testimony tomorrow: NYT columnist
On Tuesday, in the wake of testimony from several witnesses in the impeachment hearing that broadly implicated EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in improper backchannel foreign policy, New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali suggested that Sondland is in "tremendous trouble" — and that no testimony he could give tomorrow will get him out of this mess:
No. He will be trying to save himself. The perjury plus multiple stellar witnesses paint a damning portrait. He's in tremendous trouble. https://t.co/CxN5w0EErb
Even the Republican witnesses make Donald Trump look like a depraved criminal
The second half of Tuesday's hearing offered something new in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry: Witnesses called by the Republican minority on the House Intelligence Committee. It's understandable why Republicans would want these two men.
One of them was Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide who is among the few people directly exposed to Trump's famous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who claims to believe there was nothing wrong with it. The other was Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, who appears to have been a major actor in Trump's extortion scheme in that country. Indeed, Volker was deemed one of the "three amigos" — along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump donor/EU ambassador Gordon Sondland — who Trump entrusted with Ukrainian relations as he exerted increasing pressure on the country's leaders to give into his extortion scheme.