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After Epstein’s death, only a trail of documents remain

Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier who was awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges, died by apparent suicide Saturday morning, a day after a federal court in New York unsealed a trove of documents related to his case. Julie Brown, the Miami Herald reporter who has been investigating the Epstein sex scandal for more than two years, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Joining me now for more on Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide is Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown.

    Julie, you and your team's reporting really is credited with what we know now is the last phase of Jeffrey Epstein's life. Given how much you know about him, how much you studied him, how he was able to negotiate and plead down so many things were you surprised that he apparently died by suicide today?

  • Julie Brown:

    I think everybody was pretty surprised. I think that we all thought that it because he had allegedly tried this before that he was probably being watched very carefully. So I think everybody was pretty stunned when this happened.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So this comes a day after this massive document cache was released for people who have been following this closely, what's in there?

  • Julie Brown:

    These were thousands of documents that the Miami Herald sued in court for this was a defamation case involving Ghislaine Maxwell who is allegedly help him with this sex-trafficking operation. She acted as a sort of Madame, one of the people that helped orchestrate it and in law some of these women to his various homes in New York and Palm Beach. And as part of this lawsuit which was settled in 2017 there was a lot of it from, I had gotten a tip that there were a lot of information in this case that sort of provided evidence and pointed fingers at very important people, wealthy people, politically connected people who had been somehow on the periphery of this.

    So we decided that since most of the documents in the case were sealed that we would go to court and ask the court to unseal these documents on the grounds that this is an important case and the public should know exactly how it happened.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So was Jeffrey Epstein providing young women to these peoples so that he could gain leverage on them?

  • Julie Brown:

    Well that's what one of the victims says and she was in his in his circle of for a long time for well over two years during a key period. This was also the period right before he got caught essentially luring a whole contingent, dozens of girls to his Palm Beach mansion. So this particular victim Virginia Giuffre was part of his circle, closest circle of people right around the time that he was operating this sex pyramid scheme involving underage girls in Palm Beach.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are all of the documents public now?Are there more on the way where we're going to learn more about what was going on?

  • Julie Brown:

    Now this is only a fraction of the documents that have been released in that case and we expect that there's, we understand that there's thousands more that are still sealed. There is going to be a hearing on Thursday in New York where a judge is going to look at what's left and come up with some kind of a plan to unseal them. This was a preliminary group of documents that were connected to a motion for summary judgment in the case. They include a lot of exhibits. It was pretty you know it is a huge trove of of information but there's more that's probably going to be released.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And of what you've read was it disturbing?

  • Julie Brown:

    There were some you know awful things. You know it was difficult to read in places you know when you have a 15-year-old girl just weeping in one of the documents, a houseman described how he ran across this 15-year-old girl who had just come back from Epstein's island and she was just completely traumatized by what had happened to her there and you know it's difficult to read.

    I mean I'm a parent and you know you think of your own children sometimes when things like this happen it's inevitable. So it is it was pretty disturbing some of the details.

    Right. Several of the men that were named in the document issued statements flat out refusing this and saying this is 100 percent or 1000 percent of a lie. But it also seems like from your reporting here that several people besides that inner loop knew what was happening?

  • Julie Brown:

    Yeah it's hard to understand. You know as David Boies the attorney in New York who represented Virginia you know said to me yesterday that you know Epstein didn't do this alone. And a lot of people knew what he was doing and it was sort of this thing that was in plain sight. A lot of people knew about it.

    I think that this is now where you know we all as a society have to look around and understand that it's up to us to really come forward when we see something wrong or something that's amiss. I mean how these young girls would be prancing around his various homes with other people present when they were clearly under age is is kind of astounding.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yeah. Julie Brown of The Miami Herald thanks so much.

  • Julie Brown:

    Thank you.

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