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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said "I was "not a fan" of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein — but repeatedly refused to reveal what led to a "falling out" that he now claims to have had with the wealthy financier about 15 years ago.
Trump's comments came a day after Epstein, 66, appeared in New York federal court to face new charges that he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, in his Manhattan and Florida mansions from 2002 to 2005.
In 2002, Trump told New York magazine that at that time he had known Epstein for more than a decade and called him a "terrific guy" who is "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," Trump told the magazine at the time. "No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Trump, during a photo opportunity in the Oval Office on Tuesday, told reporters that he had known Epstein "like everyone in Palm Beach," Florida.
"He was a fixture in Palm Beach," Trump said of Epstein, who is also known for having been friends with former President Bill Clinton.
"I had a falling out a long time ago with him," Trump said. "I don't think I've spoken to him in 15 years."
"I was not a fan of his," Trump said.
Reporters asked Trump at least four times what caused the falling out, in particular if it stemmed from a criminal probe of Epstein in Florida in the mid-2000. But aides ushered them out of the Oval Office as Trump did not answer.
During the same photo opportunity, Trump said that he felt badly for his Labor secretary, Alex Acosta, who is facing increasing calls by Democrats to resign because of his role in a non-prosecution agreement that Epstein signed in 2008 with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, which Acosta headed at the time.
Trump said that Acosta has done an excellent job as Labor secretary, and said Acosta would not have been the only person responsible for the deal with Epstein.
At the time of that deal, Epstein was being investigated both by state and federal authorities for conduct that is now the basis for the new prosecution by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.