Long before Donald Trump ran for president, he socialized with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is currently being held without bail after being arrested on July 6 on charges of alleged sex trafficking. Epstein has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer did not return Elite Daily's request for comment. In recent years, however, The New York Times reported that Trump has distanced himself from Epstein. But that hasn't stopped Epstein from claiming that he introduced the president to first lady Melania, though neither of the Trumps have ever mentioned Epstein playing such a significant role in their introduction. So do Melania Trump and Jeffrey Epstein know each other? They've definitely attended at least one of the same social gatherings.
President Trump told reporters on July 9 that he had a "falling out with" Epstein, and that he hasn't "spoken to him in 15 years." Epstein, on the other hand, has reportedly been playing up his connection to the Trumps since the 2016 election, per the Times, in part by reportedly claiming that he was the one who first introduced the pair. Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment on whether Epstein played a role in their first meeting but did not immediately hear back.
When the first lady tells the story, however, she says that she met Trump at the Kit Kat Club during a New York Fashion Week party in 1998. Melania told former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren that Italian entrepreneur Paolo Zampolli had invited her to the party. It was Zampolli that introduced her to Trump, The New York Times reported in 2016.
But that doesn't mean Melania and Epstein didn't know each other. Even if Epstein wasn't involved in introducing Melania to her husband, there is at least one photo of the two of them, alongside Trump and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, taken at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in February 2000. According to The Washington Post, Epstein's personal address book — which was leaked by one of his employees in 2009 — contained phone numbers not just for Trump and his staff, but also for Melania. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on whether or not the first lady and Epstein know one another, but did not immediately hear back.
Trump and Epstein's relationship, meanwhile, has been fairly well-documented. According to The New York Times, Trump and Epstein were photographed together at Mar-a-Lago in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine that Epstein was a "terrific guy."
“He’s a lot of fun to be with," Trump said at the time. "It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."
But Trump has more recently changed his tune on Epstein, telling reporters in the Oval Office on July 9 that he was "not a fan of" the wealthy financier.
After Epstein was arrested on July 6 on charges of allegedly sexually abusing girls for over a decade, his ties to a number of prominent celebrities, businessmen, and politicians have come under increased scrutiny. According to The New York Times, former President Bill Clinton took a ride on Epstein's private jet in 2002 — two years after leaving the White House — as part of his work with the Clinton Foundation. On July 8, Clinton's office released a statement via Twitter saying that the former president "knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to," and that he had "not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade."
Epstein was arrested on July 6 on charges that he allegedly trafficked dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, per Vox. Epstein has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer did not return Elite Daily's request for comment. According to The New York Times, he faced similar charges in 2008, but was able to avoid a longer prison sentence by pleading guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution. He only spent 13 months in jail and was required to register as a sex offender at the time, per the Times.
Epstein is expected to be arraigned on July 15, Vox reported. As he sits in jail, his powerful former friends — including a current and former president — are doing their best to distance themselves from him.