Trump described the island as a ‘cesspool’ and said reporters should ‘just ask Prince Andrew, he’ll tell you about it’ while linking the Epstein scandal to his adversary Bill Clinton.
Andrew acknowledges that he visited Epstein on the Caribbean island and is under growing pressure to give evidence to US authorities, but says he never witnessed or suspected any of Epstein’s crimes.
Like the Clintons, Trump himself also socialized with Epstein in the years before the late financier was disgraced and jailed for child sex crimes.
Donald Trump (pictured left) told reporters to quiz Prince Andrew (right) about Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophile island’ as long ago as 2015, newly resurfaced footage reveals
The island in question was Little St James, a spot in in the US Virgin Islands which Epstein bought for $7.95million in 1998
Trump’s remarks on Epstein came at the conservative gathering CPAC in February 2015, before he had entered the presidential race.
In a Q&A session with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump was asked for his view on Bill Clinton and said: ‘Nice guy, got a lot of problems coming up in my opinion with the famous island with Jeffrey Epstein’.
Later, Trump was asked to expand on that in an interview with Bloomberg and brought up Prince Andrew apparently unprompted.
‘That island was really a cesspool, there’s no question about it. Just ask Prince Andrew, he’ll tell you about it. The island was an absolute cesspool,’ Trump said.
Asked whether the issue would affect Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Trump said that ‘it could be a political problem’ for the Clintons.
At the time, Epstein was already a known pedophile because of his 2008 conviction in Florida and was currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who alleges she had sex with Prince Andrew. The prince denies this.
Before Epstein’s conviction, he had a network of powerful friends including Andrew, Trump and the Clintons.
The island in question was Little St James, a spot in in the US Virgin Islands which Epstein bought for $7.95million in 1998.
Bill Clinton is known to have flown on Epstein’s ‘Lolita Express’ airplane and one alleged Epstein victim claims she saw the former president on the island.
Andrew acknowledges that he visited Epstein (pictured) on the Caribbean island and is under growing pressure to give evidence to US authorities
Donald Trump was among the rich and powerful people who socialized with Epstein and Maxwell. They are seen here with Trump’s future wife Melania in 2000
The Virgin Islands sued Epstein’s estate earlier this year, claiming the late sex offender raped and trafficked dozens of women and young girls on the island.
The complaint alleges that Epstein’s abuse spanned from 2001 to 2018 and targeted girls who appeared to be as young as 11 or 12.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties plus some assets from Epstein’s estimated $577.7 million estate, including the forfeiture of his two private islands, Little St James and Great St James.
Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Florida state prostitution charge, and completed a 13-month jail sentence now widely considered too lenient.
The scandal came rushing back to prominence in 2019 when the financier was arrested on new child sex charges in New York and then killed himself in jail.
Earlier this month, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was dramatically arrested in New Hampshire and charged with procuring underage girls for him to abuse.
Maxwell denies wrongdoing, but is due to stay in custody until a trial next year after she was denied bail by a federal judge.
Andrew, 60, has been at loggerheads with US prosecutors for months after they claimed he was failing to co-operate with their Epstein probe.
The Duke’s lawyers say he has offered to help on ‘at least three occasions this year’ but US officials claim he has ‘repeatedly declined our request’ for an interview.
Royal commentators say the discrepancy may lie in the nature of the offer, with Andrew’s lawyers offering a ‘witness statement’ while former US attorney Geoffrey Berman made it clear he was seeking an ‘interview’.
Audrey Strauss, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell on July 2
Andrew’s last verbal interview on the subject – his BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis – was widely seen as a disaster and led to his resignation from public life just days later.
The prince was criticised for failing to show any empathy towards Epstein’s victims, and many of his explanations for his behaviour attracted mockery.
In a subsequent statement he said he ‘regretted my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein’ and ‘deeply sympathised with everyone who has been affected’.
‘Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,’ he said at the time.
The issue was thrown into further confusion last month when Berman was fired by the Trump administration in a separate row.
Prosecutors renewed their appeal for Andrew to give evidence as they announced the charges against Maxwell, saying that ‘we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us’.
A source close to the Duke said Andrew was ‘bewildered’ by the latest pressure, saying: ‘We have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month and to date we have had no response.’
Andrew’s legal representatives are adamant that the Duke ‘is not and has never been a target’ of the criminal investigations and that US prosecutors are seeking his help as a witness. He denies any wrongdoing.