Politics

Trump banned Jeffrey Epstein from Mar-a-Lago after sex criminal hit on member's daughter, book claims

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump banned wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein from his exclusive Mar-a-Lago club for hitting on the teenage daughter of another member, according to a new book entitled "The Grifter's Club."
  • Trump has repeatedly offered well wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, who is charged with enabling Epstein's serial sexual abuse of underage girls.
  • In addition to Trump, Epstein had been friends with President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew.
A video still from the NBC archive showing Donald Trump talking with Jeffrey Epstein at a party in Mar-A-Lago from 1992.
NBC

President Donald Trump banned his former friend, the wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein, from his exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club for hitting on the teenage daughter of another member, a new book says.

The late Epstein's banishment by Trump from the Palm Beach, Florida, club appears to have occurred months before Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to state criminal charges in Florida, which included paying for sexual services from a 14-year-old girl.

But it also seems to have happened more than two years after a state grand jury charged Epstein with soliciting prostitution.

The new book "The Grifter's Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Selling of the Presidency," also says that despite claims to the contrary by Trump's company, Epstein had been himself a member of Mar-a-Lago before he was banned.

A Trump Organization official last year denied that Epstein, who had a luxurious residence in Palm Beach, had been a dues-paying club member after the investor was arrested in July 2019 on child sex trafficking charges.

Epstein died a month later in a Manhattan federal jail from what authorities have ruled was a suicide by hanging.

At the time, Trump did not reveal publicly what led to his falling out with Epstein, whom he said he had not spoken to for up to 15 years.

"I'm not a fan of his," Trump said then.

But Trump, a real estate developer and reality TV star, for years had been friends with Epstein before booting him from his club. Epstein also previously was friends with President Bill Clinton, Britain's Prince Andrew, and other wealthy and powerful people.

In 2002, Trump told New York magazine, "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."

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NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

The New York Times last summer reported that in 1992, a Florida businessman at Trump's request had organized a "calendar girl" competition at Mar-a-Lago.

"I arranged to have some contestants fly in," George Houraney, the businessman, told the Times.

"At the very first party, I said, 'Who's coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.' It was him [Trump] and Epstein."

"I said, 'Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You're telling me it's you and Epstein?'" Houraney recalled.

But Epstein's penchant for young women apparently became an issue for Trump and Mar-a-Lago years later, according to "The Grifter's Club."

Sarah Blaskey, a Miami Herald investigative reporter who co-wrote the book, told her newspaper in an article published Tuesday that according to another Mar-a-Lago member, Trump "kicked Epstein out after Epstein harassed the daughter of a member."

"The way this person described it, such an act could irreparably harm the Trump brand, leaving Donald no choice but to remove Epstein," Blaskey said.

Epstein months after his banning from Mar-a-Lago began serving what ended up being a 13-month jail term on the Florida state criminal charges.

The Herald, whose groundbreaking stories in late 2017 about the sweetheart nonprosecution deal that federal authorities gave Epstein in 2007 led to his indictment on federal sex trafficking charges last year, also reported that a footnote in the new book says its authors were shown Mar-a-Lago's membership registry from more than a decade earlier.

The registry revealed that Epstein had been a member.

"The member lists we saw were essentially spreadsheets," Miami Herald reporter Nicholas Nehamas told his newspaper.

"They listed current members, honorary members and former members. Red cells indicate the closed account details for former members. Most closed accounts are labeled 'Resigned' and then the date that the membership ended. Epstein's account says 'Account closed 10/07.'"

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Virginia Giuffre, one of a group of women who claims she was sexually abused by Epstein, has said that British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her as a teenager to be exploited by Epstein when Giuffre was a teenager working as a spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago.

Maxwell last month was arrested on charges related to allegedly enabling Epstein's sexual abuse of several underage girls in the mid-1990s.

Maxwell also is charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath during a deposition for a civil lawsuit filed by Giuffre, in which Maxwell had denied knowledge of Epstein's sexual misdeeds. 

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty, and is being held without bail.

Trump, during a July 21 White House news conference, said that he wished Maxwell "well."

In a new interview with Axios, Trump defended his kind words for Maxwell, despite reporter Jonathan Swan reminding him that she is charged with crimes related to the alleged sexual exploitation of children.

"First of all, I don't know that," Trump said, referring to the charges against Maxwell.

"But I do know that her friend or boyfriend [Epstein] was either killed or committed suicide in jail," Trump said "She's now in jail."

"Yeah, I wish her well. I'd wish you well, I'd wish a lot of people well," Trump told Swan.

Blaskey told the Miami Herald that Trump's recent comments on wishing Maxwell well "show the difficulty Trump and Palm Beachers have in acknowledging abhorrent behavior in people they consider part of their social circle."

"When reporting this book, we heard many times that Epstein's victims had done pretty well financially, despite the abuse, and shouldn't really be pitied. It was sickening," Blaskey said.

Attorney General William Barr has said that Epstein's death was the result of a "perfect storm of screw-ups," but also has said that he is sure Epstein committed suicide.

Barr said security footage shows no one entered the area of the jail where Epstein was being kept at the time of his death.