OF COURSE TRUMP “FELL OUT” WITH EPSTEIN OVER REAL ESTATE, NOT UNDERAGE GIRLS
The president and Epstein were reportedly each other’s “wingmen” until taking opposite sides of a real estate deal.
BY BESS LEVIN
AUGUST 1, 2019
Since Jeffrey Epstein was arrested at a New Jersey airport and charged with sex trafficking, dozens of rich and powerful people long associated with the guy have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from him. One such individual is President Donald Trump, who told reporters last month that he’d had a “falling-out” with the sexual predator (who pleaded guilty to two counts of prostitution in 2008 and has denied the most recent charges) a decade prior. Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten has also attempted to downplay the connection, telling Fox News in 2016 that the then-candidate had “no relationship” with Epstein, that they “were not friends,” and that they “did not socialize together.” Of course, video footage, investigative reporting, and contemporaneous quotes from Donald Trump himself prove that’s not the case at all.
In 2002, for instance, the real estate developer told New York, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. 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.” Per the New York Times, in 1992, Trump directed Florida businessman George Houraney to organize a “calendar girl” competition at Mar-a-Lago, and after 28 female contestants were procured, revealed that the other guests were just “him and Epstein.” Video footage from that same year shows the two men partying together at the Palm Beach resort with cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, laughing, chatting, and, in the case of Trump, pawing at women. The friendly relationship continued for more than 10 years after that, with the two men reportedly dining at Epstein’s mansion and attending many of the same dinner parties; according to Epstein’s brother, Mark, Trump would comp Epstein’s mother and aunt at one of his Atlantic City casino hotels and flew on Epstein’s private jet—the one he allegedly used to ferry underage girls to his private island of horrors—“numerous times.” One person who observed both men told the Washington Post that “they were tight” and that, nauseatingly, “they were each other’s wingmen.”
Ultimately, Epstein and Trump did have a falling-out. According to a new report from the Post, however, it didn’t have anything to do with Epstein’s disturbing behavior with underage women, but, naturally, a real estate deal.
In November 2004, Trump, who was starring in NBC’s The Apprentice at the time, declared himself intent on winning “the finest piece of land in Florida and probably the U.S.,” an estate that had been seized as part of the bankruptcy of nursing home magnate Abe Gosman.… Epstein was also enraptured by the property, which Gosman had purchased in 1988 for about $12 million from Leslie Wexner, the Ohio-based retail executive who was a friend and patron of Epstein’s.
At first Epstein pressed to gain the upper hand in the competition for the estate, according to Joseph Luzinski, the bankruptcy trustee. Epstein agreed on a price and terms that were viewed as favorable for Gosman’s creditors if a higher bid didn’t emerge, he said. As the competition heated up, Trump and Epstein began talking each other down to the trustee, Luzinski said. On November 15, 2004, the bidders, their representatives, and a small cavalry of lawyers representing the creditors and the Gosman family gathered in a courtroom at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in West Palm Beach. Trump was connected by phone.
The auction began with an attempt by one of Epstein’s three attorneys to knock Trump out of the bidding. Attorney Andrew Kamensky argued that Trump was not qualified because he demanded that the property have title insurance or he would not close on the sale. “What I’m telling you is that Mr. Epstein will—he will close,” Kamensky said, according to a transcript obtained by the Post.
Ultimately, Trump was the higher bidder at $41.35 million. In an interview with the Post, Luzinski characterized the face-off as “two very large Palm Beach egos going at it.” Four years later, Trump would sell the property to—who else?—a Russian businessman named Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million. (Apropos of nothing at all, Rybolovlev was charged with corruption last year, which he denied.) Trump would later ban Epstein from Mar-a-Lago, though the exact timeline—whether this was before or after Florida police began investigating Epstein in 2005—is unclear.
According to the Post, the last known interaction between Trump and Epstein occurred the same month as the sale of the house, when Trump left a pair of messages for Epstein at his Palm Beach home. We can only assume Trump called to gloat over “low-energy” Epstein for losing the deal, and not to warn him to stay away from underage girls.