Epstein and Maxwell socialized with the super-elite, listing among their friends former president Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and Trump.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump are pictured with one or both of them on multiple occasions.
The president was asked about Maxwell during a news briefing on the coronavirus and what he thought about the possibility that she could work with authorities to turn over names of powerful men who also sexually abused underage girls.
“I wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach,” Trump said. “But I wish her well, whatever it is.”
Trump’s comments drew rebukes from Democrats, and even some Republicans expressed unease, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.).
“This is unacceptably obtuse for a woman accused of the most morally depraved of crimes, @realDonaldTrump,” Roy wrote in a Wednesday morning tweet. “She needs to be severely punished . . . and justice must be served for the girls she abused. For ALL involved.”
The reaction from Democrats was more pointed.
“Today, Donald Trump sent well wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, who is charged with procuring underage girls to be sexually abused,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday night. “Has he sent any well wishes to the families of the more than 140,000 Americans who have died during this pandemic?”
After Epstein was arrested in 2019 on sex trafficking charges, Trump denied having a friendship with him or knowing that he preyed on young girls. Epstein died in jail while awaiting trial.
Trump was quoted in a 2002 New York Magazine profile of Epstein discussing their relationship.
“He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Trump said then. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”