Jeffrey Epstein Dead In Apparent Suicide

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier who was arrested earlier this summer on sex trafficking and abuse charges, has died of what appears to be a suicide in his jail cell.

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire investor who was arrested last month and charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking, sexual abuse of minors, and possession of child pornography, was found dead this morning in his jail cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a facility operated by the Federal Government, a victim of an apparent suicide:

Jeffrey Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, committed suicide at a Manhattan jail, officials said on Saturday.

Mr. Epstein hanged himself and his body was found this morning at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan at roughly 7:30.

Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.

Mr. Epstein, a financier with opulent homes, a private jet and access to elite circles, had been dogged for decades by accusations that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual acts in Florida.

He previously avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a widely criticized deal that allowed him to plea to solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail.

Last month, a week after being denied bail, Mr. Epstein was found unconscious in his cell at the jail in Manhattan with marks on his neck, and prison officials were investigating the incident as a possible suicide attempt.

It was not immediately clear on Saturday whether the authorities had put in additional safeguards to watch him after the incident last month.
Martin Weinberg, Mr. Epstein’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A cache of previously sealed legal documents, released on Friday by a federal appeals court, provided new, disturbing details about what was going on inside Mr. Epstein’s homes and how his associates recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.

The documents — among the most expansive sets of materials publicly disclosed in the 13 years since Mr. Epstein was first charged with sex crimes — include depositions, police incident reports, photographs, receipts, flight logs and even a memoir written by a woman who says she was a sex-trafficking victim of Mr. Epstein and his acquaintances.

Perhaps relevant to all of this is the fact that Epstein’s apparent suicide comes at the end of a week that has included a number of new revelations that added to his legal headaches and the potential claims against whatever was left of his personal fortune. First, Epstein was accused early in the week of massive misappropriation of funds by Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founder of L Brands, the parent company of a number of prominent apparel retailers including Victoria’s Secret. The misappropriation allegedly occurred when Epstein was apparently managing at least some of Wexner’s assets in a period before the sexual misconduct against him began coming out. Second, just yesterday, The Miami Herald, which has been at the forefront of this story for a decade now, reported on the release of previously sealed documents in a civil case revealing how Epstein used associates to recruit young girls for him. Whether there is a connection between these developments and the apparent suicide is unclear.

At this early hour, there are few details about the circumstances under which Epstein’s body was discovered other than he apparently committed suicide by hanging. There are reports that he had attempted suicide at least one other time and that he was on suicide watch, although neither of these reports is confirmed at this time. Even if he was on suicide watch, though, it would have been difficult but not impossible for him to commit suicide. For one thing, it would depend on the nature of the “suicide watch” itself. Typically, for prisoners in custody, it means more frequent patrols by jail guards to check on an inmate’s welfare. Sometimes, it means having a camera on the cell at all times. In addition to not knowing for sure if Epstein was under watch and, if he was, the circumstances of that watch.

In any case, given the charges against Epstein and the fact that it was already likely that he would be spending the rest of his life in a Federal prison, it’s not entirely surprising that he would end up taking his own life. The evidence against him was massive and largely irrefutable and, even before you get to the trafficking and abuse charges against him, the amount of child pornography found in his Manhattan mansion alone would apparently have been enough for him to be sentenced to several decades in prison.

Inevitably, of course, this is going to lead to conspiracy theories from the left and the right. Even before he was reported, it was claimed that Epstein had helped arrange for many elite and powerful men to have access to the underage girls he was abusing. Political opportunists on the left and the right have claimed for years that people ranging from Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to former President Clinton and President Trump were allegedly involved in all of this even though there was no evidence to support any of this. Obviously, Epstein’s suicide will only lead to further speculation and conspiracy theories that will go on forever even though there is absolutely no evidence that any of these theories are remotely true.

Obviously, there are legitimate questions to be asked here about exactly what happened and how Epstein was able to commit suicide while in custody. This includes what the nature of whatever watch he was under actually was and how he was able to kill himself notwithstanding that watch. That’s far different, though, from engaging in what amounts to baseless speculation such as what’s being spread around social media this morning. I suppose it’s inevitable, though.

Update: It is now being reported that Epstein was not on suicide watch:

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    Over at, it’s nearly unanimous that the Clintons had this done.

  2. And at DailyKos, the theory will be that Trump had it done.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    If you want a conspiracy theory remember: this was a FEDERAL lock-up. A federal lock-up under the control of Bill Barr’s corrupt DOJ and Donald Trump.

    Personally, I’d like to see evidence this was anything other than a suicide. It does not look good. But the odds are still that it was suicide. If you’re serious about killing yourself you can do it in the, let’s say, two minutes it’d take for the bulls to get there. Faster if you’re a rich man who offered a guard a million dollars for some arsenic.

    He had every reason to kill himself. Many, many other people also had reason to wish him dead. But let’s not dismiss the obvious: he was in hell and he wasn’t getting out. An old, white, rich pervert? You’re not going to be making a lot of friends on the inside. In his place I’d kill myself.

  4. Teve says:

    @CSK: which makes total sense because the Clintons are in charge of the Department of Justice. 😀

    He wasn’t in the county lockup in Little Rock, he was in Federal custody, care/of William Barr.

    ETA Dangit Reynolds you beat me by one minute

  5. Guarneri says:


    I hear Barr conspired with the Russians. Some guy with a Greek name told Joseph Misfud, who told the FBI.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Drew enters room. Farts. Giggles at his own wit.

  7. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Actually, only a few so far at DK. But very few seem to think it was suicide.

  8. SenyorDave says:

    @Guarneri: If the DNC had Seth Rich killed, it certainly makes sense that Bill Barr had Epstein killed.

  9. Modulo Myself says:

    Anyone who thinks that Jeffrey Epstein was not making money handing girls to rich men is in an idiot. It’s like believing that a guy named Carmine really does work in the waste-removal business. Odds are both Trump and Clinton along with many many many many other rich/powerful/famous men (Marvin Minsky wtf?) raped his underage products. I doubt either Clinton or Trump are smart enough to pull this thing off. It’s possible he committed suicide. But it’s offensively stupid to think that Epstein was not deeply enmeshed in power because he offered girls.

  10. john430 says:

    The DNC and it’s assassins strike again! Clintons have alibi; now on holiday out of the country.

  11. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    But it’s offensively stupid to think that Epstein was not deeply enmeshed in power because he offered girls.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make that argument.

  12. Mikey says:

    Anyone thinking someone had Epstein killed to protect themselves should understand that all the Constitutional and statutory protections that applied to him–including, but not limited to, the warrant requirement for searching his home, possessions, computers, etc. etc. etc.–no longer apply. You have to be alive for the Constitution to apply to you. And nobody else has any standing to challenge any evidence that has been or could be gathered.

    A dead Epstein has put his clients in a far worse position than they were when he was alive.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obviously, there are legitimate questions to be asked here about exactly what happened and how Epstein was able to commit suicide while in custody.

    Yes…. but why do people want us asking those questions instead of insisting on an answer to the question of how he secured the original sweet heart deal to begin with? I really want to get Acosta on the stand with an immunity agreement in his hands. Way too many DOJ rules and norms broken for there not to have been outside pressure brought to bear.

  14. Modulo Myself says:


    Doug’s entire post is about how conspiratorial it is to believe that rich and famous people were caught up in this. When one’s entire life is a conspiracy, it’s not baseless to have questions about how a man who had already tried to commit suicide (allegedly) was able to pull it off while being under suicide watch (allegedly). If this happened in a third-world country, how many people would believe the official narrative?

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Trump is also on vacation. And Trump and his administration run that jail. So, by your, um, standards, either Trump had Epstein killed, or he called off the guards allowing Hillary Clinton to sneak in there and garrote the perv. Either way, Trump clearly did it.

    Explain how I’m wrong. I dare you. Come on, give us the full-on, batshit crazy.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Brazen murder? Brazen murder of a pervert who might have implicated any number of powerful people? Based on past experience, the Russians or the Saudis. Both friends of Trump. Let’s see if there are any Russians either being held there or on-staff.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:


    A dead Epstein has put his clients in a far worse position than they were when he was alive.

    Pretty sure a live Epstein with a prison sentence in Club Fed testifying on the stand about what all those documents and emails and travel logs and receipts etc etc ad nauseum mean and exactly how they all fit together are far more dangerous to certain alleged individuals than his sealed lips ever could be.

  18. Stormy Dragon says:

    The suicide rate in US jails is 50 per 100k, five times the rate for the general population. This is just another example of the brutal treatment endemic to US law enforcement, and people who normally are happy to turn a blind eye to it are just acting shocked because it happened to a rich white guy for a change.

    Also, even if there were a conspiracy, murdering Epstein would be the worst thing they could do right now. It’s not going to stop any of the investigations into co-conspirators. It’s not going to stop any of the lawsuits, which will continue against his estate. All it’s going to do is make all of those investigations and lawsuits even easier because now there’s no one with standing to challenge any warrants or discovery.

  19. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself one of Doug’s paragraphs said that. And to my mind Doug might have been a little too dismissive of the possibility that other powerful people were involved. But

    Epstein was not deeply enmeshed in power because he offered girls.

    is an argument I still haven’t seen anyone make.

  20. Teve says:

    Most of the people on social media making conspiracy comments have been dingbats, but this was pretty funny:

    If you’re surprised that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide last night, imagine how surprised He must have been.


  21. Mikey says:

    NBC is reporting Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Dude, don’t give whoever (if anyone) is behind this too much credit. MBS did the worst possible thing murdering Khashoggi. Putin did the dumbest thing sending a pair of morons to attempt murder in Salisbury, UK. Trump. . . well, jeez, who has time to even start that list.

    I’ve been wrong far more often by overestimating someone’s intelligence than by underestimating it. People are dumb.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Which moves the quivering finger of accusation back toward Trump and Barr. Pretty sure Hillary doesn’t decide who is and who is not on suicide watch at a DOJ facility.

  24. Bill says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Dude, don’t give whoever (if anyone) is behind this too much credit. MBS did the worst possible thing murdering Khashoggi. Putin did the dumbest thing sending a pair of morons to attempt murder in Salisbury, UK. Trump. . . well, jeez, who has time to even start that list.

    The Marcoses had Benigno Aquino killed. I vaguely remember editorializing on it at the time saying it was dumb to think Marcos would order the killing because he would only be creating a martyr.

  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your examples actually help my point.

    The conspiracy version of Epstein’s death is that someone had him murdered in order to prevent information from coming out and hoped to get away with it without their identity becoming known.

    The Putin and MBS cases, the murder was not to prevent information from coming out, but rather as a form of retaliation toward the victim, and the perpetrator actively wanted their involvement to become general knowledge.

  26. As I note in an update, it is now being reported that Epstein was not on suicide watch

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    As for what was really going on, Epstein’s primary smart idea is that if you organize a blackmail ring as a hedge fund, it’s not really a crime any more. He’d get incriminating evidence on rich people and then insist they put a big chunk of money in his “hedge fund”, where he would charge them 4% percent per year to have their money in what was more or less an S&P500 index fund. Then they would have to bring their rich friends to Epstein’s parties to create opportunities for new “clients” to incriminate themselves.

  28. Modulo Myself says:


    Put it this way, if you asked me what crazy conspiracy I believe in, I would tell you that I think that the Memphis police along with the FBI killed Dr. King. I have no proof of this, but since the FBI literally was telling Dr. King to kill himself (and they were happy to arrange for the Chicago PD to kill Fred Hampton), I have good evidence on my side that says they were into murdering him and would have done it, given the chance.

    And yet–if it would come out that Hoover had King killed Americans would be ‘stunned’, even though it would not be stunning at all.

    The same goes for Epstein. Even though it’s obvious what was going on, we will continue, as Americans, not to draw the deepest conclusions about men in power in this country.

  29. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That’s interesting. I haven’t seen much of anything about his money moves beyond the fact that he was a Bear Sterns trader starting in the 70s who then started an offshore hedge fund.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    You assume everyone knows the civil cases will go forward. I didn’t until about an hour ago.

    The relevant question now is: who made the decision not to put Epstein on suicide watch? That’s the guy we need to talk to.

  31. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself: I take more of a Rashomon / Jose Chung’s From Outer Space perspective on those questions. I don’t know what the fuck happened, and I doubt we ever can know.

  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @michael reynolds:
    A jail administrator who doesn’t put want to put inmates on suicide watch unless he absolutely has too, because it’s expensive and in 99% of cases no one that matters really cares if prisoners are committing suicide anyways.

  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s Hanlon’s razor: never attribute to conspiracy something that can just as easily be explained by indifference.

  34. Modulo Myself says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is the 1% that people do care about. From the standpoint of CYA, it’s insane not to put a very high-profile on suicide watch after he has already attempted it once. Indifference is not even a plausible defense.

  35. Jen says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Honestly, anyone who didn’t realize the batsh!t crazy conspiracy potential of this situation is clueless–I’m shocked that they didn’t have him on watch for that reason alone.

  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Not the key phrase in my comment “no one that matters”. It’s not yet clear that anyone who matters cares that Epstein has committed suicide.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    This was an elite facility, one well-used to celebrity defendants and one well-used to putting same on suicide watch. It was at the very least malfeasance. The question is whether the malfeasance was motivated by anything other than laziness or incompetence. I agree that incompetence is always the first place to look. But these are cells stripped of everything that would make it possible to hang yourself.

    An obvious high value, high-risk prisoner is not put on suicide watch? It’s a stretch to assume negligence. May well be, but it’s hardly a given.

  38. Tyrone says:

    Most people I heard on this had said weeks ago that Epstein would never live long enough for a trial. I would not be surprised to hear that Las Vegas was running a line on it.
    I well remember the day that Lee Harvey Oswald was shot. He was paraded around in the police station that most anyone get walk into. Same thing then. A lot of people said that he would not live out the week.
    They will come out with some explanation of how he managed to kill himself. Which will create more questions than answers. Epstein was a bird in a cage.
    We’ve seen it before, we’ll see it again.

  39. michael reynolds says:


    But one federal prison official with knowledge of the incident said Mr. Epstein had been taken off suicide watch a few days ago, and was being held alone in a cell in a special housing unit.

    The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said guards found Mr. Epstein in the empty cell during morning rounds. He had hanged himself and he appeared to be dead.

    It would have been extremely difficult for Mr. Epstein to harm himself had he still been on suicide watch, a second official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    Inmates on suicide watch are generally placed in a special observation cell, surrounded with windows, with a bolted down bed and no bedclothes. A correction officer — or sometimes a fellow inmate trained to be a “suicide companion” — is typically assigned to sit in an adjacent office and monitor the inmate constantly.

    Robert Gangi, an expert on prisons and the former executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, said guards also generally take shoelaces and belts away from people on suicide watch.

    “If he’s on suicide watch, it’s virtually impossible to kill yourself,” Mr. Gangi said.

    Inmates can only be removed from the watch when the program coordinator, who is generally the chief psychologist at the facility, deems they are no longer at imminent risk for suicide, according a 2007 Bureau of Prison document outlining suicide prevention policies. The inmates cannot be removed from the watch without a face-to-face evaluation.

    To take an inmate off suicide watch a “post-watch report” needs to be completed, which includes an analysis of how the inmate’s circumstances have changed and why that merits removal from the watch.

    My bolds.

  40. Gustopher says:

    My assumption is that his lawyers were working to get him off the suicide watch — perhaps believing that their client liked having sheets on his bed, and not being stared at all the time, rather than him simply waiting for the first chance to kill himself.

    Wealth buys lawyers and privilege. And the means to kill oneself when the privilege is sheets, belt, shoelaces, and some privacy.

    Maybe it is all a big conspiracy theory, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to explain things.

    Pity. I would have liked him to live a long time in misery.

  41. grumpy realist says:

    Well–isn’t this very very convenient for a lot of people?

    (Forget about what people in fact get to say and look for because of Epstein’s death. It’s whether a certain group of people THOUGHT that Epstein’s death would cover holes in their defences.)

    I figured that there was potentially more behind it when I discovered that a lot of Epstein’s computers (complete with reported recorded underage nude photography) had vanished out of his Arizona place and the only thing the police have been able to say is “who, us? Naaah, we don’t know nothin'” even though they were the ones in charge of the lieu and had the authority to make sure that nothing containing possible information would disappear. Ditto for the hush hush we won’t say anything about Prince Andrew’s involvement coming from the U.K. Either it’s open kimono time and let everyone know exactly what is going on, or we’re able to be cynical about what it was your minions were getting rid of.

    Not that I believe all of the names getting slung about–some of the stories make me think the next reported episode out of said individuals will be abduction by aliens. But on the other hand, when people get named from multiple independent sources, the balance of belief starts to tilt.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Case closed: Barr Says He’s ‘Appalled’ To Learn About Epstein’s Death

    Now we know Epstein was murdered, and the DOJ was at the center of the conspiracy to silence him.

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    I’m sure that President Pud will direct Barr to ask Vladimir Putin to convene a panel to investigate this matter.
    After all who else can Dennison trust?

  44. Gustopher says:

    @grumpy realist: Where did you hear about the vanishing computers and the British Royal Family?

    (I’m hoping that the movie version of this has Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth, in an Emma Peel catsuit, doing a crazy Mission Impossible style harness from the ceiling burglary of a police evidence locker, leaving behind a carefully chosen broach as her calling card — so everyone knows it was her, but no one can prove it)

    (Or a single Corgi hair)

  45. Slugger says:

    I don’t know what happened, and my speculations are no more reliable than any other marginally sane person. I wish that we would have a complete and full account, but I wonder about the reliability of a Department of Justice headed by someone clearly chosen on the basis of sycophanty. I want total disclosure of his client/coconspiritors/fellow pedos. If his death is due to suicide, this negligence requires the resignation of the entire chain of responsibility for the lockup starting with Bill Barr. We must insist on accountability in government.

  46. Jen says:

    It is depressing, bordering on insane, how many of my friends are buying into conspiracy nonsense about this. Half of my FB feed is suggesting the Clintons were involved, the other half is blaming Trump.

    Who knew what could bring left and right crazies together would be this.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    It’s insane to blame the Clintons.

    It is not at all insane to have questions about why Epstein was taken off suicide watch in a jail under the control of a DOJ headed by a Trump bootlick who asserts that Trump is above the law.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: Wait a minute, I read that the warden once gave a small contribution to the Clinton Foundation. Also that he sent her an email, that he once visited Benghazi where he met some people in a coffee shop, AND that he has never accounted for his whereabouts when Seth Rich met his tragic end.

    Sure smells fishy to me.

  49. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: wasn’t the whole Seth Rich thing pretty conclusively shown to be Russian trolling? Like to the point that some right-wingers were deleting their Seth Rich tweets?

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Everybody blames the Russians for everything these days. It was Hillary all along.

  51. Scott O says:

    @Teve: Yes, recently covered on Fresh Air

  52. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s been interesting reading Twitter today. Every self-appointed expert is saying this must have been a murder. And everyone with actual experience of the criminal justice system is saying, “Uh, no.” The system is defined by callous indifference. Inmates have died/committed suicided in the presence of guards. They’ve died while guards laughed and joked and told them to stop faking. I’m not saying this shouldn’t be looked into. I’m just saying anyone who finds this unusual is unfamiliar with just how cruel and dehumanizing our prison system is.

    (And note: most inmates who kill themselves do so within a few weeks of imprisonment.)

  53. CSK says:

    If you needed further proof of how deeply, profoundly stupid Trump is, here it is: He retweeted 2 conspiracy tweets suggesting the Clintons are involved in Epstein’s death.

  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: I can’t remember exactly where I read the Arizona material–it was a very in-depth article analysing Epstein’s activities, looked to have been written by someone who was in fact an actual reporter. I seem to remember it was a local Arizona newspaper.

    And for Prince Andrew’s links with Epstein–it’s something that’s been all over the British media, even the BBC.

  55. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Here’s a weird idea: given how much of a sex maniac Epstein was, are we actually sure that his suicide is an actual suicide and not an “oops, I was indulging in autoerotic asphyxiation and screwed up”?

  56. Teve says:


    Donald J. Trump Retweeted

    BREAKING: Documents were unsealed yesterday revealing that top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s “pedophilia island”

    Donald J. Trump Retweeted

    Terrence K. Williams
    Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen

    #JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead

    I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this!

    RT if you’re not Surprised

    #EpsteinSuicide #ClintonBodyCount #ClintonCrimeFamily

    So that’s terrific.

  57. Tevr says:

    @Scott O: thanks that’s an incredibly informative interview.

    You spoke with Deborah Sines, who was the federal prosecutor in charge of the investigation. And these conspiracy theories kind of created an issue for her, and she made some efforts to find out where they may have come from. What did she discover.

    ISIKOFF: Exactly. She was puzzled about all the conspiracy theories swirling around the case that she was investigating. So she finally turns to the U.S. intelligence community. She had a security clearance as a assistant U.S. attorney. She asked them to help her figure out, where’s all this stuff coming from? And they come back with a bombshell. They provide Sines with copies, English translations of copies of intelligence bulletins that were circulated by the Russian SVR – that’s Russia’s version of the CIA – just three days after Seth Rich’s death, July 13, 2016. In the intel – that first intelligence bulletin, the SVR suggests – it doesn’t suggest – asserts that Seth Rich was on his way to talk to the FBI that early Sunday morning when he was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton.

    And this was, as far as we can tell, the first time that a conspiracy theory about Seth Rich’s death was put out there. That very same day, July 13, it pops up on an obscure website, called, which, when you look at it and examine it, it’s filled with all sorts of stories attributed to Russian intelligence officials, Russian foreign ministry officials, Russian press reports. It’s effectively a vehicle for Kremlin propaganda. And they apparently took this SVR bulletin that had been intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials and used it to put out this wild conspiracy theory that played right into that far-right conspiratorial meme I mentioned before about the Clintons’ – a Clinton body count and assassins working for the Clintons who go around rubbing out inconvenient people in their political path.

    DAVIES: And apart from that initial report, were Russian internet activists busy on this story?

    ISIKOFF: At each stage of the game, whenever issues about Seth Rich would be raised or articles would appear in the press, Russian trolls working for the Internet Research Agency – that’s that shadowy outfit in St. Petersburg that was at the center of the social media manipulation by the Russians during the 2016 – would play up the Seth Rich stories.

    We found more than 2,000 tweets and retweets by these Russian troll operatives masquerading as American citizens, as American political groups. One of the most active was a Twitter handle known as TEN__GOP, masquerading as the Tennessee Republican Party’s Twitter handle. It was actually a Russian troll in St. Petersburg. And they were – and it, TEN__GOP, was constantly tweeting about Seth Rich and retweeting anything it could find, keeping the Seth Rich conspiracy meme at the, you know, in the social media bloodstream.

    DAVIES: So in, I guess, the spring of 2017, this hits Fox News in a very big way.


  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: If it happens that the Daily Kos does report that Trump ordered a button sewn on Epstein, can we count on you to report that to us? It’s one thing to note that someone already has reported a fabulously partisan story and another to speculate that another will do so in the future.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Nah. Mikey’s right. You zip him after he’s in prison and the news has died down. Looks more like a coincidence or prisoner-on-prisoner violence that way.

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: That WAS clever! 😛

  61. Kari Q says:

    Obviously I’m in the minority. I think he did commit suicide. He certainly had every reason to, and he’d already tried once. A lot of questions to answer about why he was taken off suicide watch, but I’m applying Occam’s razor and saying suicide is the simplest explanation.

  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “An obvious high value, high-risk prisoner is not put on suicide watch? ”

    On the other hand, how “valuable” is a guy whose testimony would put away guys like Dershowitz, Clinton, Trump, and a bunch of nameless plutocrats and oligarchs? Who (other than you–and possibly me) is interested in prosecuting these types of guys? Teh gubmint? People named Adelson, Mercer, or Koch?

    Buehler… Buehler…

  63. de stijl says:

    The most likely scenario is ineptitude on the prison’s part, and suicide by Epstein.

    Anything else requires a conspiracy and a murderer(s). Secrets are hard to keep when more than one person knows it.

    This secret would need a compliant very high level prison administrator, a bent guard or seven, and balls of titanium.

    The likely scenario is incompetency in withdrawing the suicide watch, and Epstein hung himself with a bed sheet cuz he knew he was screwed and his life was over and he used to a big shot and now he’s in a cell for the rest of his life.

    Any conspiracy scenario requires multiple people who are not spooks (guards, gurad commanders, and administrators to sign on for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. No way that omerta holds given the sh!tstorm of scrutiny the incident will bring down.

    Unless someone has some actual evidence of a conspiracy, this is a suicide by a guy likely to commit suicide.

  64. Kari Q says:

    This may be the most unique take on the Epstein situation I’ve seen. Andrew McCarthy reviews what we know and decides the most important question is:

    An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Obviously, there are many pressing questions about the conditions of Epstein’s incarceration.

    But why was he in custody rather than on bail?

    Also in the article, he asks key questions like why was Epstein in federal custody in the first place? Why was SDNY prosecuting him at all? McCarthy just can’t seem to figure out the answer to these questions.

    It reminds me of something we used to say in high school, “Here’s a nickel. Go buy yourself a clue.”

  65. michael reynolds says:

    Occam’s Razor certainly suggests suicide.

    Brother Occam does not explain why Epstein was taken off suicide watch.

  66. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Hanlon’s razor explains it – ineptitude / stupidity.

    A take I like which I don’t believe has a catchy name is bureaucratic nonchalance. They just didn’t give a crap.

  67. de stijl says:

    Flat out gurantee. Nutjobs will be trying to resource an investigation of who was on duty, when they were hired, who they voted for.

    We’ll see faked resumes and rampant speculation about some guy from Queens who’s worked there for 13 years but was a Clinton sleeper plant. It’ll be on Reddit or 4/8 chan and some Trump lackey will retweet it. (We’ve already had Lynne Patton go full Vince Foster.)

    Unless you have verifiable proof otherwise this is an administrative eff-up+misplaced confidence+a guy who wanted not be in prison for the rest of his natural life.

    It’s Occam’s razor and Hanlon’s razor.

  68. de stijl says:

    @Kari Q:

    Yeah. Why was Epstein in federal custody rather than on bail?

    Holy crap! Talk about privilege! Jinkies, that take is insane!

  69. al Ameda says:

    Anyone who did NOT think the the Right would ‘Vince Fosterize’ or ‘Seth Rich’erate’ this situation has been off the grid for about 30 years

  70. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That is a valid question and I would be interested in the answer myself.

  71. grumpy realist says:

    @de stijl: Which is also why it’s very likely if there’s any “cover-up” it’s going to be about incompetence rather than flat-out malice.

  72. Guarneri says:

    Is it all of you guys objective to just make public fools of yourselves, or are you auditioning for an MSNBC host slot. Your mothers must be proud.

  73. Barry says:

    @de stijl: “Anything else requires a conspiracy and a murderer(s). Secrets are hard to keep when more than one person knows it.”

    If this were true, there would never have been a mafia, and we would not see the police impunity which we see.

  74. de stijl says:


    Is there a mafia anymore? In any real sense? Ever since RICO more guys have ratted out than those that didn’t.

    There aren’t Five Families anymore and they run jack diddly squat.

    They all sold each other out for a reduced sentence or if lucky witsec.

    Why would some guy working at a federal pen making 17 bucks an hour sign up for faking a suicide that will rain down attention up to congressional hearings. Not just one guy – this is a federal prison and there are cameras everywhere and restrictions and regulations about who is where when and crosschecks and safeguards.

    Unless 5 or 6 guys who all worked the same shift suddenly have heart attacks or fatal traffic accidents in the next day or two and all the video gets accidentally erased by yesterday morning, this overwhelmingly is what it’s been reported as.

    All of the cops in the world will be looking at this hard and diligently. It’s big and political and they will def cover their ass. All of the wannabe detectives over on Red State will be scanning the fonts for kerning. There will be congressional investigations with subpoenas.

  75. Jen says:

    @Guarneri: Many if not most of the comments here are highlighting two things:

    1) Why was Epstein, a known suicide risk, taken off of suicide watch?
    (My guess? Pressure from a high-priced lawyer + privilege + incompetence on the part of the prison psychologist. Suicide watch sounds very uncomfortable, what with the rip-resistant smock as the only clothing, no bedding, and an all-window room.)

    2) The Federal Bureau of Prisons is an agency within the Department of Justice–they are responsible for this sloppy mess.

    I’m with Kari Q, I think this was a straight up suicide, enabled not by malice or intent but by gross incompetence. The burden of proof of anything otherwise is on those making the conspiratorial claims.

  76. wr says:

    @Kari Q: Andrew McCarthy promulgates the Republican view of law and order that anything a rich, white Republican does is legal, and any attempt to prosecute one of his tribe is pure politics.

  77. michael reynolds says:

    Says the clueless cultie who evidently does not realize that his Orange Jebus is tweeting crazy conspiracy theories.

  78. grumpy realist says:

    @de stijl: It’s also quite likely that what we have here is collective incompetence/DGIF/plain stupidity/laziness. Report over at Raw Story about how even when Epstein was on suicide watch they weren’t doing all the mandated checks.

    Never underestimate the possibility of organisations to end up with gross incompetence….opening the wrong side of the skull for brain surgery because no one bothered to double-check beforehand. Or having a conflagration in a train station because no one was in charge of inspecting fire hazards and (get this) the connectors on the ends of the fire hoses weren’t the right design to hook up with the fire hydrants.

    I do have to say that the Brits seem to be more prone to this multi-layer incompetence than the U.S. is. Which is why a no-deal Brexit is going to be so much of a car wreck to gawk at….if you’re watching it from abroad.

  79. de stijl says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That what I was trying to convey earlier when I said there’s something beyond the razors’ Occam and Hanlon. Call it de stijl’s razor (that was hubris).

    It’s institutional sloth and poor communication and bowing to pressure and going along to get along.

    It’s a shrink you says and believes that Epstein is not now a imminent suicide risk, but have the guards doing hourly checks to monitor him closely, and the guard commander sees “remove from suicide watch” and stops reading, and guards that got a bad and incomplete briefing at the start of their shift and really don’t give a flip doing barely enough to remain employed.

    A lot of people who work at that prison are about to be suddenly and forcefully jolted out of their habitual slumber.

    This will be a sh!tstorm. And will echo for decades. This is Vince Foster+Hillary’s e-mail server big.

    It’s all bullshit, but it’ll be big.

  80. Tyrell says:

    @de stijl: “evidence”: After the JFK assassination there was a committee formed to do a “full” investigation. It was called the Warren Commission and it was made up of an interesting cast of characters. Basically it was what everyone expected: a complete cover up. No one believed that junk. Most of the real files on the assassination will never be released. Same for the Lincoln assassination/Booth conspiracy.
    That Warren Report book is somewhere out in the garage.
    Some of the witnesses on the “grassy knoll” in Dallas dropped completely off the map.

  81. de stijl says:

    This is a locked room mystery trope with a twist. The locked room was being watched, monitored, and videotaped by a discrete set of people within a very narrow time window.

    A. It’s a suicide. A very simple suicide.
    B. It’s a murder. A very complicated murder conspiracy quite easily discernable by any investigator.

    Those are the choices (have I missed another option?)

  82. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Trump is relieved that Epstein is dead, but takes the chance to point blame elsewhere.

    Why? Because Epstein was a VERY close friend. and he needs to say: “Look!!! Squirrel!!! There!!! Way WAY over there!!! Certainly NOT here!!!!”

    Please view:

    Very close friend. Very close indeed.

    Focusing on the details of a jail call, or suicide itself: Not the real issue. he realized he was f’ed and too the easy way out.

  83. michael reynolds says:

    No, the Warren commission was not a cover-up. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy. The end.

  84. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:

    Those are the choices (have I missed another option?)

    This sounds like a job for a fiction writer. (Trumpet fanfare!)

    1) You have a guy you believe is suicidal, you take him off suicide watch, hoping he kills himself.
    2) You work on the guy, painting horrific pictures of his future, hoping to induce suicide.
    3) Epstein mistakenly thinks he’ll survive a suicide attempt, thinking it might get him a psych plea.
    4) His lawyers are co-opted and induced to push for an end to suicide watch.
    5) It’s not Epstein at all, it’s a body double and Epstein is in the Caymans.

  85. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Trump is relieved that Epstein is dead, but …

    See how easy it is to promote a false conspiracy theory?

    Just put that out there, so you can see it has about the same validity as Trump retweeting a Clinton conspiracy.

  86. Mikey says:


    I’m with Kari Q, I think this was a straight up suicide, enabled not by malice or intent but by gross incompetence.

    This. The problem happened when they forgot they shouldn’t treat Epstein the way they’d treat any other prisoner.

  87. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I am reading the trashiest, cheesiest thriller right now. By James Rollins. Every good guy / gal character is a Mary Sue. Hyper competent, wicked smart, extremely well read when the plot needs them to be, etc. I’d give you the actual title, but they’re all the same – a bunch of Mary Sues sporting about saving the world from utter destruction. These books are shameless. And I eat them like candy. There’s something wrong with me.

    I’m not all shameless. I love John Sandford’s “… Prey” novels, and Micheal Connelly and John Connolly, and whatshisname the Reacher guy. I like good trash thrillers / mysteries. (The Reacher series has some major Mary Sue issues, but decently written.)

    Crucible is a bad trash thriller, but I’ll read it anyway.

    Like I said, I’m shameless.

  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kari Q: You see, this is one of those times when being an ignint cracker has its advantages. I simply assumed that it was because someone wanted him to have the chance to kick his own bucket.

    A friend of mine was surprised that he didn’t suicide from 20 or 30 knife wounds–in the back!

  89. de stijl says:

    When a random episode of Bones or Supernatural is better written and more nuanced than the book you’re reading, perhaps you should put it down. Forever.

  90. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: I’m not sure which group of “you guys” you’re referring to in the “public fools” carp–the ones who are saying suicide is the obvious answer or the one’s who are throwing shade on conspiracy theories.

    What is it that you know? Enlighten us. Had you make a trip to Florida yourself prior to Epstein’s arrest?

  91. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Lee Childs is who you’re thinking of. I love him. He’s unique, has a very well-defined and original voice, and the dude can plot. I was on book tour in Ireland and a bookseller I knew had an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Child’s latest. I’ve seldom been happier about a gift. I ended up reading the whole thing in a single seating at a café in St. Pancras station.

    People like to divide between ‘literature’ and ‘genre.’ It’s silly. Raymond Chandler was genre. Dickens was genre. Jules Verne basically invented a genre. I’ve always seen ‘literary fiction’ as a genre of its own: lots of characters with good educations, ticking the right boxes with readers from Park Slope to, well, um, Berkeley, and beset by problems they could solve simply by pulling their heads out of their asses.

    Sometimes I toy with the idea of writing a literary novel under a pseudonym, just to say I did it. But why? I write for money, not for the high opinion of the cognoscenti, and literary novels print 5,000 and sell 3,000. Might as well write (shudder) poetry.

  92. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “This will be a sh!tstorm. And will echo for decades.”

    Maybe among conspiracy theorists (yes, I am looking at you, Tyrell), but for most of the population, this story will fall off the radar with the arrival of the story about North West’s school outfit for starting First Grade.

  93. de stijl says:

    Reading a James Collins book is roughly equivalent to watching a Fast and Furious movie. You know exactly what you’re going to get going in. It will be loud and gloriously stupid and the good guys will win in the end.

    There used to be these guys. I lived downtown in a highrise looking down at a great view of the river, and a great view of a shitty dance club. Every Friday and Saturday night that club was chockful of idiotic asshole testosterone dudes and the misguided girls who were into that scene. This was back when tuner culture was a thing and they had these small Japanese or Korean two door sport sedans with spoilers and oddly tuned mufflers. It was a thing at the time.

    Inevitably at closing time there would be a fight. Well, a “fight” with a lot of banter and strutting but very few actual fisticuffs. Posturing.

    This club and their speakers and their idiot song set and their caveman clientele was the bane of my life. It was the audio volume, that and super shitty club songs. They played The Thong Song every frikken weekend like 4 times a night.

    I was annoyed enough I e-mailed my councilperson until I decided that was a lame and a bitch move, so I decided to egg them on. I figured if there were enough fights on the street directly outside the club (btw, the had a a patio and wrangled some license deal where they could have speakers outside. They played the same set of songs every night and I could hear it thru the windows and I was 11 stories up. Nibbling on my dick like a rat does cheese is stuck in my my head forever. And that slide song. Crikey!

    In order to be sane, I needed that shit to quit, so I decided to be an instigator and escaltor. If a fight were a brewin’, I would amp it up to 11.

    The first weekend under the new regime was a total bust. I was trying to egg them on, but they couldn’t hear me. I was a half block from them on the x axis, but 11 floors up on the y. They could hear someone yelling, but not what. It was good practice anyway.

    I got a megaphone.

    I was an utter rat bastard.

    I would egg them on.

    Here’s where this hooks back into the Fast and the Furious. One of my things, was to call them Fast and Bi-curious. You took your shirt off to fight or to fuck? Pick one or both.

    People who lived on my side of the building joined me in cat-calling the dudebros.

    The condo board shut us down. No megaphone on balconies. It was the smart move.

    Turns out that my passive- aggressive e-mail to my councilperson actually worked and they rescinded the variance allowing above 80 db for outside speakers at clubs.

    I never got any dudes to actually fight. I made the whole scene too confusing.

    But it was a lot of fun, though.

  94. de stijl says:

    Hey! I like poetry.

    Done well, it’s focused and succinct. Like a proper song lyric.

    Literary fiction is God – awful. A professor with marriage problems and alcoholic and afraid to make any choice at all. That covers 90% of the lot. And why is that stuff not ghettoized as “genre” cuz it is one.

  95. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Hey, what about my suggestion that sex maniac Epstein was into autoerotic asphyxiation and this was a case where he offed himself by accident and what we’re now seeing is the “oops” by the flunkies because they were Peeping-Tom him and didn’t rescue him in time?

    Acute embarrassment all around, which pretty much is what we’re seeing, no?

  96. Kari Q says:

    @de stijl:

    But no one makes money writing poetry. That’s why he shuddered, I believe.

    I think you’re mistaken about literary fiction. 80 percent of them are about middle aged men justifying their desire to leave their wife and run off with a younger woman. Bonus points if the middle aged man has school age children.

  97. de stijl says:

    @Kari Q:

    Is he a professor?

  98. de stijl says:

    Maybe I’m naturally middle brow. I like well written interesting, evocative prose. A well turned sentence.

    I never got thru Remembrance Of Things Past. Not even close. I faked it. I wrote my paper on Proust’s take on the elasticity of time which I could pull from the first 40 pages. Kids who are reading thus should ignore thus paragraph.

    I actually enjoyed Joyce until I couldn’t bear another paragraph. I need something to happen. Anything. Zing me with your style but please introduce anything that is not interior monologue.

    Kids, ignore what I said earlier. Proust sucks. He yammers away forever about a friggin’ pastry. Avoid at all costs.

  99. de stijl says:

    The author’s take on “the elasticity of time” was my go to paper when I had nothing.

    I could Google this and look smart, but I won’t. There was this Thomas Mann book about TB asylum in the alps. It was shockingly boring. So I faked it and wrote my go to topic (different professor).

  100. Kari Q says:

    @de stijl:

    Frequently, but not exclusively. They always have a white collar job and advanced degree, though.

  101. de stijl says:

    Why does everyone chase after Updike?

    It’s this “write what you know” deal turned wrong. Too many aspiring people take it to heart too much. WWYK is great advice for background and flavor, but you have to tell a story and most people’s lives are not stories and are fairly boring.

    What hath Rabbit wrought?

    Too much workshopping to other writers.

  102. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I remembered it, it was an excellent twist, but I can’t plagiarize.

    @Kari Q:
    There are two kinds of poets: tenured professors and homeless drunks.

  103. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Write what you know is extremely bad advice. Young people don’t know anything. Old people know platitudes. Of 150 books there are many seven or eight I’d read. I realize it sounds counterintuitive, but I don’t need to know it to write it.

    Better: Write what you know how to write.

    Better still: Write what you know how to write that will pay the bills.

  104. de stijl says:

    Lee Childs (despite the Mary Sue aspects of the Reacher character) writes a damn interesting story.

    @michael reynolds:

    Thanks for the author’s name. I own and have read 10 or 15 of those books but I couldn’t remember the dude’s name.

    Looking back, I could have gotten up and looked at the bookcase. Apparently I couldn’t be bothered at the time.

    Have I mentioned I’m frequently an idiot?

  105. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Again. Hey! I like poetry.

    Well, good poems. The bad ones are awful.

    The cool thing about poems is that they’re usually short. The up front time investment is minimal.

    And you can usually suss out whether it works for you or not after three lines.

  106. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You hace this argument that we should judge the work solely on the merits and not on the author. I hear you and I get you, but I’m not totally there and likely will never be.

    I tried to watch Road Warrior after all the Mel Gibson crap came to light and I just could not. Actors are seen. It literally pained me so I stopped – it was repulsive.

    But T.S. Eliot was a particularly despicable human, and also a great poet. Maybe it’s time.

    The Hollow Men and The Wasteland are touchstones for me and were written by a total dick.

    Ezra Pound was a Nazi sympathizer.

    I really can’t draw the line clean and bright.

  107. Just nutha ignint says:

    @de stijl: At the grad school where I got my teaching certificate and Master’s in English, the department head asserted that all literature was about sex, power, and greed. He even taught a seminar that was based on two themes, first the previous about the topics of literature. The second was that the Greeks said everything important and the history of literature is the chronicle of people seeking new ways to repeat what the Greeks had already told us.

  108. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl:

    And why is that stuff not ghettoized as “genre” cuz it is one.

    Technically poetry is a mode of discourse IIRC. and “genre” doesn’t actually mean what you guys are using it to mean. But I don’t actually care about the genre part so carry on. 😀

  109. Teve says:

    @de stijl:

    Lee Childs (despite the Mary Sue aspects of the Reacher character) writes a damn interesting story.

    When I’m in a mind to read crap I like Lee Child and David Balducci and John Sanford. But I don’t know why Lee Child’s books work at all–the hero is supposed to struggle, and Child said in an interview he didn’t like that and wanted to turn that around. So Reacher is always bigger, stronger, smarter, higher-willed than his opponents. They work, as books, I’ve read plenty of them, but it must just be wish fulfillment / male fantasy appeal, cuz he fundamentally skipped an essential ingredient for drama.

    One reason the Tom Cruise adaptation didn’t work for me is that Reacher is supposed to be like 6’5 with huge hands etc. But maybe that lack of struggle is why they flopped at the box office.

  110. michael reynolds says:

    Some stuff that seems on the surface to be easy to adapt isn’t. Stephen King comes to mind. King’s stock-in-trade is dread, the slow building of dread. He starts in backstory, diving deep, adding elements, ratcheting it up. That does not translate well to the screen. Kubrick did it, but Kubrick had the advantage of being a genuine genius.

    Reacher may have similar issues because so much of what people like about the books is the detail, the specificity of location. On-screen you take all that for granted because: pictures. Casting Tom Cruise is no doubt what got the two movies made, but they also gutted the idea from the get-go. Tiny Jack Reacher is like huge Tyrion Lannister. I wonder how Childs felt about it. On the one hand: payday! On the other hand: Oy vey.

    Have I mentioned that 80% of movies fail to break even? It’s actually worse than the rate of failures in restaurants. But the margins are huge on the 20%, so they don’t seem concerned. I imagine it’s about the same in TV, but the streamers (Netflix etc…) refuse to give data, so who knows. It’s seldom the actors, they’re generally excellent. Ditto the technical things, sound, pictures, CGI. It’s almost always the writing. The ratio of people who have a great idea to people who can actually get it down on paper is 100 to 1. The TV equivalent is the ratio of great pilots to great sixth episodes, let alone second seasons, also not great.

    Which is why Hollywood is so open to bringing new writers in. Hah hah hah. Kidding.

  111. EddieInCA says:


    But maybe that lack of struggle is why they flopped at the box office

    Neither of the Tom Cruise movies flopped at the box office. Both did very well for Paramount and Skydance. It’s been a long, long time since Tom Cruise had an actual flop. The guy makes money on pretty much every single one of his movies. “Edge of Tomorrow” is considered a flop. Look up the numbers. It did well. Same with “Oblivion” and “American Made”. His “flops” are pretty much always profitable.

  112. michael reynolds says:

    Cruise’s Reacher made money, what it did not do is turn it into the franchise it could have been. I gather there’s a Reacher series coming from Amazon, so maybe they’ll get it right. Most books are better on TV IMO. You have to squeeze a book into a feature length often, it seems, cutting out everything that made the underlying IP interesting.

  113. Jen says:

    I like literary fiction! Or at least what I understand to be literary fiction, which is probably an important thing to note.

  114. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Agreed. When I was doing “The Red Road,” on Sundance Channel, I read my first Lee Child “Jack Reacher” book. At the time I was working with Jason Momoa who I thought would’ve made the perfect Jack Reacher.

  115. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: I always see mid-1980s Nick Nolte…

  116. Teve says:

    That’s who I see playing Reacher.