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Impeachment Inquiries

November 14, 2019

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Federal officials ask why Epstein was not on suicide watch

Federal authorities are calling for an investigation after wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in a New York jail on Saturday morning, just weeks after another reported attempt to take his own life. Epstein was in custody on sex-trafficking charges. Pervaiz Shallwani, senior editor at The Daily Beast, joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein I'm joined by a Pervaiz Shallwani, Senior Editor and Writer at The Daily Beast. How is it possible for this to happen considering that a couple of weeks ago they thought there might have been he might have taken an attempt on his own life?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    I think that's the million dollar question everybody's asking. I mean if you look at the statement from William Barr today and saying that they're appalled by this and they've launched an investigation not just by the FBI but also the Justice Department's inspector general to figure out what happened, you can tell that you know this is not supposed to happen and they're taking this very seriously.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Now there was a suicide watch on him for a while after that. Now this was removed. What is suicide watch really?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    So he was found in a state of distress — this is about three weeks ago in his jail cell — they found some sort of marks on his neck. And so they put him on suicide watch. Investigation into that was still ongoing as far as I know. And at some point they took him off suicide watch. Why they took him off suicide watch and why they don't think he was you know a danger to himself is also part of the investigation that I think people are asking about.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And where in the jail is he kept? And is this, put this in perspective for people in other parts of the country, is this a high security area? Is it surveilled very well?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    So he was definitely in a high security area in the prison at points while he's been there. As far as jails go there aren't more notorious jails than the jail that he was in. This is the jail that El Chapo is in, this the jail that Paul Manafort was sitting in, this is the jail that crime bosses across New York City have spent time in. So this is as high profile as it gets as far as the jail goes.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So is it fair to assume that there might have been surveillance of this or any individual that's in this section of the jail?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    It's unclear if there's surveillance in the section where he was at. So.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What does this investigation likely to include? What are they going to be looking at? What, who's on shift? What did they see? When was the last time someone was checking on him?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    I imagine they will look at the protocols to see if the protocols were followed. I imagine they will be interviewing the guards who were in charge of him at the time. I imagine they will be interviewing supervisors who were in charge of the time. If there is any surveillance cameras anywhere near or around him they will be looked at. And then the FBI will also do a criminal investigation just a dot I's and cross its T's for now to make sure that nothing criminal happened and this actually was a suicide.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    I mean perhaps we've just watched too many Hollywood movies but literally a bombshell amount of documents are revealed the day before this happens…

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    Yeah. It was shocking. But again. The chances of him actually even knowing that the bombshell documents reveal the day before it happened, I don't know, I don't know how much access he has to anything in the outside world. So it's a bit unclear if he knew that there was anything from the outside world. You know if you're talking about conspiracy theories, they've lit up the internet in in in response to an almost immediately. So I'm sure you'll hear thousands if not hundreds of thousands of conspiracy theories.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So what was the next step? What was going to happen if this didn't take place?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    They were setting up for trial. I mean last week or the week before they had a hearing in which you know they were trying to set up a trial date for him to go before a judge in a jury.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And he pleaded not guilty. He was facing 45 years.

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    Correct.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Right. And is there anything else that could have been added on as another charge with some of the information that's been coming forward since?

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    As they're going forward with the investigation. I mean as they find things it's always possible that he could have additional charges added on. 45 is pretty much the rest of his life as far as the sentence went so.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right Pervaiz Shallwani from The Daily Beast thanks so much for joining us.

  • Pervaiz Shallwani:

    Thank you for having me.

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