People in high places sure are nervous about the Jeffrey Epstein case. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has a lot of 'splainin' to do about the secret plea deal he brokered as a prosecutor in 2008 that was supposed to put the serial pedophile rapist and sex trafficker behind bars. Instead, Epstein got 13-months of work release.
A cynic might conclude that who you are, who you know, and how much money you have, gets you a better brand of justice than the black kid with a pound of weed, an overworked public defender and a judge who gets kickbacks from the for-profit prison up the river.
Epstein's plea deal was so egregious, a court ruled it illegal because it hadn't allowed victims to weigh in. He cultivated scores of economically-disadvantaged teenage girls who were hired to give “massages” for a few hundred bucks. Then they were ordered to take their clothes off. And, well, you get the picture.
The unrepentant Epstein counted as friends Bill Clinton and Donald Trump among a Who's Who list of celebrities. But guilt by association isn't fair. For instance, if I'd voted for Trump, I wouldn't want to be associated with his sleazy presidency, either.
Both Clinton and Trump have distanced themselves from Epstein, a man known to procure teenage girls for his friends. Trump, whose loyalty extends only as far as his belt line, will throw Acosta under the bus in due time. They'll call it a resignation. Anecdotally, Democrats discussing the case seem perfectly willing to put Clinton behind bars if that's where the trail leads. But if it turned out Trump were involved, could Republicans say the same?
In recent weeks there's been a rape claim against Trump, one of 24 sexual assault accusations. They've all been written off as politically-motivated, deep-swamp fake news. Just like the Mueller Report. Just like kids in cages. With Trumpians, where there's smoke, there's, well, just smoke. Inexplicably, Trump hasn't gotten around to suing his “false” accusers as he vowed.
Trump and Epstein were both named in a 2016 civil suit by “Katie Johnson,” whose complaint accused them both of a brutal rape in 1994, when she was 13. Many of the other sordid allegations are consistent with the things that got Epstein convicted in the first place, but the timing of the suit, which was later dropped, had the stench of an election year shakedown. She probably isn't his type, anyway.
Hypothetically, though, what if Epstein, now facing life behind bars, implicated Trump, and produced undeniable proof of the president's criminal involvement? Would it matter to all you family-values Republicans? Could you look your mom, who took you to church and taught you right from wrong, dead in the eye and justify your unwavering support because Wall Street is booming and you think you got a tax break? You've justified everything else.
It's just a hypothetical question. Don't worry, that's not how things will unfold. Guys like Trump always buy and bully their way out of trouble. I'm just posing the question as an exercise in values. I'm not expecting an answer.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.