FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he wants a “full investigation” into the circumstances surrounding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death at a federal detention facility in New York City while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
“Basically what we’re saying is we want an investigation. I want a full investigation, and that’s what I absolutely am demanding. That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing. He’s doing a full investigation,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey.
Trump made the comments after U.S. Attorney General William Barr earlier vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation even after the financier’s death and ordered the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into the matter.
Epstein, who once counted Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.
Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning, having apparently hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan.
The 66-year-old financier had been on suicide watch, but a source said he was not on watch at the time of his death.
At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Karen Freifeld, Andrew Hay, Mark Hosenball, Matthew Lavietes, Rich McKay and Mike Spector; editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham