tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC July 10, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
under the agreement in the southern district of florida, the investigation ceased, and they had the opportunity to proceed civilly. that does not mean that the investigation had to cease nationwide. and as we see today, as we saw in new york, investigations could certainly and obviously proceeded in other districts. >> how could you be enforced to -- human trafficking laws given the history with this case? >> i started one of the first human trafficking task forces at the department of justice. i have been aggressive prosecuting human trafficking. we stood -- we stepped in, in this case. and we stopped a bad state. so i understand from today's perspective that people scratch their heads and they say why. here is the question to ask. how many other times have you seen a u.s. attorney's office
intervene in a state matter and say stop the state plea because it is insufficient? >> sara lynch with reuters. i want to ask you about a question about the office of professional responsibility. earlier this year it was disclosed that they're doing a review into how you and other prosecutors in your office handled this matter. what is the status of that? what exactly are they looking at? will you submit to an interview, even though you're no longer with the justice department, and if they find any misconduct, will you resign? >> um, first i don't know what the status of that is. i would refer that to the office of professional responsibility. i don't speak for them. i will clearly submit for an interview, even though i don't have to. i think what they do is important. the office of professional responsibility will have access to the full record. they will have access to all the facts. they will have access to the fbi reports and the victim
interviews. they can look at this matter in its totality. and so i think it is important that they proceed. i will gladly be part of it. and i think what they will find is that the office acted appropriately. ma'am? >> hi, sir. pbs news hour. at labor secretary, you have tried repeatedly to cut a program that deals with human trafficking in the labor department by up to 80% going before congress advocating for that. why should people trust you to focus on human trafficking and protect victims if you've done that? and i'd like a follow-up question. >> so you're referring to grants that go to foreign countries for foreign country labor-related work as part of the budget every year those grants have been removed, as have other grants for foreign countries. let me just add as part of the budget every year, those grants
are put right back in in, congress. this is what happens in washington, and i fully suspect that those grants will remain in, in this year. your follow-up? >> um, my follow-up question is sources have told me that the president encouraged you to hold this press conference. can you speak a little bit about what the president told you ahead of this press conference and whether you're here to give a message to the president? are you fighting for your job? or are you trying to send a message to victims? and if so, what is the message to victims who say they don't trust you anymore? >> so, first i'm not about to talk about conversations with the president, and i'm not here to send any signal to the president. i think it's important a lot of questions were raised, and this has reached the point that i think it's important to have a public hearing. i think it's important that these questions be asked and answered. and as to a message to the victims. the message is you need to come forward. i heard this morning that another victim came forward and made horrendous, horrendous allegations.
allegations that should never happen to any woman, much less a young girl. and as victims come forward, these cases can be brought, and they can be brought by the federal government. they can be brought by state attorneys. and they will be brought. we have seen in the last few years cases brought against individuals that got away with things for well over a decade. it's important to realize that people were getting away with these. people were not going to jail at all. and we're aware of those high-profile cases. and we've seen as victims come forward how the justice system deals with it. and so the message to victims is come forward. >> final question. >> secretary? >> let me take a few more. the. >> you just said -- >> i'm sorry, richard? >> madden with cv television. you just said a moment ago the victims should come forward. but you still haven't offered an apology to them. why is that?
>> so the victims should come forward because the justice system needs to hear from them. and what the victims went through is horrific. what the victims continue to go through is horrific. i've seen these videos. i've seen the interviews. i'm sorry, i have seen the interviews on television of these victims and their stories. and so it's hard. but i also think it's important that we understand that the men and women of my office going back to 2006 and 2007 and 2008 have spent their career prosecuting these types of cases. and in their heart, in our heart we were trying to do the right thing for these victims. and so this is horrific, this is awful. each one of these cases is just devastating and saddening. but i also think it's important to realize that the prosecutors
were trying to do the right thing. sir? >> yeah, jeff from daily mail. how are you? are you aware of alleged obstruction of justice by mr. epstein? it seemed to have been mentioned in a memo by new york prrz. did he take efforts to intimidate prosecutors or harass witnesses, if he did that, why would he get what's been called a sweetheart deal? >> i can't comment on the new york case. that would not be appropriate. sir? >> i'm talking about in florida -- >> sir, there is a pending case in new york. i can't comment. sir some. >> i'm curious who at main justice reviewed this case or your decision, and did you have any interaction with robert mueller at the time? >> um, so i shared a letter that i wrote to one of epstein's defense attorneys. and i shared that letter in part because it shows much of the timeline.
it shows how initially the meetings that took place were between the -- in july -- between the first assistant, the criminal chief, the palm beach office chief, and the attorney with two attorneys of epstein. you'll notice all of these were career attorneys how they presented the terms, how epstein's attorneys were dissatisfied and asked for a meeting with me. how i went with their attorneys along with all the career officials, how at that meeting we then invited the chief of the child exploitation obscenities section from the department of justice to travel down because one of them -- one of the things we wanted to make sure of was that we had going back to the earlier question about the aba rule that we had sufficient evidence to proceed ethically. and then it details a little bit on how epstein's counsels
appealed the decisions to washington. i'd refer you to the record. one of the really disturbing things about this case is there is a record. the documents we've shared today, we've shared previously with media. yet i've seen no reference to any of these documents and the perspective of some of these prosecutors. there is a record of these documents are publicly available and could've been pulled up by anyone in this room. and so -- and so, you know, there is a record that i wasn't a main justice, i don't have a full list. i can tell you the individuals referenced in this letter. and i would refer you to the record because this was 12 years ago. i do not have a full list of the individuals that reviewed this at main justice. well, as the record makes clear
individuals at main justice who are involved fairly early on and we're certainly aware of it. and i think if you look at the record, it will become clear that our decisions were appealed again and again to main justice. >> from the financial times. so the deal you negotiated resulted in two things. one is that the case ended with mr. epstein pleading to state prostitution charges and another thing that it did was it immunized his co-conspirators. did you consider his victims in that case to be prostitutes, and why did you immunize his co-conspirators? >> so the answer to were the victims prostitutes? no. the victims, they were victims. end of story. they were victims. the second part of that is the purpose of this case was to bring epstein to jail, to put him behind bars.
and so there were other individuals that may have been involved that in any type of conspiracy there are individuals around someone. the focus really is on the top player. and that's where our focus appropriately was. let me also say something because a lot has been said about this 13-month. when we proceeded, the expectation was that it would be an 18-month sentence, and the expectation was that it would be served in jail. and so this work release was complete b.s. i've been on record as far back as 2011 saying that it was not what was bargained for and it was not what we expected. but this was a state court plea, and because it was a state court plea, the terms of confinement were under the jurisdiction of the state of florida. and so the outrage over that 13-month getting to leave jail
is entirely appropriate. when we entered into this, we -- i at least -- fully thought that he would be spending the time in jail. that's what we mean by someone going to jail. >> secretary, glenn. if i can get a brief statement in spanish, i would really appreciate it. >> i'll tell you what. if you answer -- if you ask me a question in spanish, i will answer in spanish. is that fair? >> i was trying to get a brief statement, i mean, so that i could go over with what everyone already says. >> [ speaking spanish ]
>> what's your message specifically to those who did come forward and felt let down by you? >> look, the victims came forward, and there were several victims. i believe that in one of the filings the department of justice talked to several of the victims. and some of the victims just didn't want any public notoriety. other victims have provided interviews and said they felt let down that they were let down. these are really hard cases. the prosecutors in my office and i were focused on putting him in jail. i have provided the information from the career attorney as to why there were concerns if we went to trial. and it became clear that they were going to receive money if he was convicted, how that would impeach their credibility. and today that would proceed very differently because
victim-shaming is just not accepted. but the circumstances of trials and what injuries would consider 12 years ago was different. and so these were the judgments that were made. i understand that individuals will look at these judgments and say, well, maybe a different judgment should've been made. you can always look at a play after the fact and say should it have been the safe play or should you have gone for the big score. ask which is the right outcome. but i provided these documents so that you could hear from the prosecutors themselves how this was being weighed. sir? >> jesse sagmam vice news. the did the "miami herald" reach out to you? >> the media has reached out to me over the years. i think it's important the department of justice is the entity that is litigating all these matters. quite honestly until recently i
haven't commented on this since 2011 because i think it's important for the united states to litigate cases through the department of justice. and if former u.s. attorneys responded to media inquires about pending cases and this is a pending case, there was a live and there still is a live civil matter. the former u.s. attorneys responded to media inquires all the time, we'd have havoc in our justice system. you can't have a department of justice as a litigating entity with u.s. attorneys giving press statements. now your follow-up question may be why am i talking today? and the answer is this has clearly reached a level where i thought it was important to have this kind of press conference to take questions and to provide these facts and these perspectives. and i understand that individuals may say this was not enough. but this is the way it was viewed not only by me but by many back in 2008.
>> secretary, just one more question. >> doug christian from talk media news. >> yes. >> you said that the victims were not prostitutes, but the agreement was he was jailed for prostitution charges, not for sex trafficking. can you just state what the distinction was? >> the agreement was this was a state -- here's why this is hard. this was a state case. he was arraigned. a state grand jury returned a prostitution charge against him, a solicitation charge, if i recall. that was a state grand jury. he was allowed to surrender by the state attorney's office. as a result of that single charge that would have resulted in no jail time. ultimately what the agreement did was say you have to go back and you have to plea to a more
serious state charge that requires jail time, that requires registration, and under this agreement you will have a mechanism for restitution. but the agreement itself, you know, ultimately the state of florida and the state attorney's office in florida is a separate sovereign. the u.s. attorney does not determine how those offices run themselves or what charges they bring. i do not consider the victims prostitutes. i think that is insulting to them. these were victims. they were not just women victims. they were children victims. >> mr. secretary, i'm deborah sanders with the las vegas review journal. since mr. epstein left jail, he's been a public figure. he's been a man about town. he hasn't seemed particularly contrif about what he did. what have you thought when you seen him? >> you know, what i thought is i keep reading newspaper articles
about pending investigations here or there. you know, if someone does a google search, they will see that there were rumors of investigations going on for the last ten years. and new york finally stood up and they took one of those investigations and they brought charges. and i wish it would've happened. i'm glad to see that it's happening now. he's a bad man, and he needs to be put away. and, you know, based on additional allegations that i saw this morning, there are multiple jurisdictions, whether federal or state, that he's going to have to answer to. the a few more questions. yes? >> with "miami herald." i wanted to follow up to your question about the potential co-conspirators. were you confident at the time that any potential co-conspirators didn't commit abuse against underage girls, because some of those victims
have accused others of doing similar acts to them. >> so, um, let me see how i can address your question without running afoul of the department of justice guidelines. um, if my office had been aware of individuals who committed acts such as sexual abuse, you know, my office, it would not have been my position that those individuals should have been part of that kind of immunity. it's not even immunity. should not have been part of that paragraph. and so i know that there are a lot of rumors about who those individuals may or may not be. i think those rumors are misconstruing the acts of the office with respect to that particular paragraph. >> richard lardner from the associated press. secretary, were you ever made aware at any point in your handling of this case if
mr. epstein was an intelligence asset of some sort? >> um, so -- >> according to that effect? >> there has been reporting to that effect. and let me say there's been reporting to a lot of effects in this case, not just now but over the years. and again i would -- you know, i would hesitate to take this reporting as fact. this was a case that was brought by our office. it was brought based on the facts. and i look at that reporting. and i can't address it directly because of our guidelines. but i can tell you that a lot of reporting is just going down rabbit holes. a few more questions. have you asked a question yet? >> i have. how about then in front of you. >> sorry. i'm trying to do a one-question per person. >> can i go ahead? >> hi. katie rogers with "the new york
times." i'm just wondering what makes you so confident that the president is going to continue to have you serve. he stands up for initially, but you're about at the level where he has backed away before. so what makes you so confident? >> look, i am here to talk about this case. i am doing my job. if at some point the president decides that i am not the best person to do this job, i respect that. that is his choice. i serve at the pleasure of the president. i thought yesterday he was kind, and he showed great support. but we have to remember we are here because we are part of an administration that is creating jobs, that is creating growth, that is really transforming our economy and focusing it on, you know, the forgotten man and woman. if at some point he says, look, you're not the right person for this right now or, you know, you're standing in the way, i respect that.
>> secretary? thanks. do you really have nothing else to say to these victims beyond you should come forward? that places a lot of burden on children. what else do you have to say? you've avoided addressing these people directly. why is that? >> so, to be clear, that is not all i said. i think, if i recall, and i obviously don't have a transcript here, but what i've said previously is i have seen these interviews and i generally can't begin to fathom what these victims have been through. i don't think that anyone that has not been in this situation can begin to fathom. the closest i can come is to think what would i feel like if one of my girls was going through this. and i would be -- i'm not sure i can say the way i would feel on television. but even that is different than what the victims themselves went through. and so the point i'm trying to
make is everything that the victims have gone through in these cases is who imic. and their response is entirely justified. at the time i think it's important to stand up for the prosecutors of my former office and make sure that what they were trying to do was help these victims. they should not be portrayed as other individuals that just didn't care. because they have spent a lifetime of bringing cases like this. they are individuals who really, really do care. ma'am, yes? >> hi. nikki schwab, new york post. how much do you think this was epstein getting special treatment because of his enormous wealth and also political connections? >> i've heard a lot about that, and if you go through the record you will see that in july he was
presented with certain terms. and i laid this out in a letter, an open letter that i wrote, to address some of these questions in 2011. and he was presented with terms. and the office, throughout this entire negotiation, and it took several months from july to, what, december, through these five months of negotiations stuck to those terms. you go to jail, you register and you provide restitution. the original term was two years. the office ultimately agreed to 18 months. it had to be an offense where there was registration because the world needed to be on notice that he was a sexual predator. and it had to be a situation where the victims could seek restitution. because it wasn't just enough for him to go to jail. let me also say, restitution is
also not enough. you can never put victims in the place they were before they were victimized. you can't unwind history. but restitution is important. thank you very much. >> senator accosta, one quick question. you mentioned to this legal team how powerful his lawyers were. did someone order you to cut a deal with epstein? >> his attorneys certainly filed several appeals with main justice. i will again restate when the career attorneys met with him, they presented certain terms. and the office stayed true to those terms throughout. those terms did not change the agreement did not change. no level of appeal to main justice changed the terms of these initial points in those agreements. one last right there, yes,
ma'am. >> hi. kaitlyn folmer. in the proposed remedies from jane doe 1 and 2, one of their requests was can they just meet with you? i know you're not apologizing today, but would you be willing to meet with them? >> that's a good question. this is currently in litigation, and so i don't want to interfere with that litigation. but let me just say i have monitored this litigation -- i haven't monitored day-to-day. i have never pulled the full record, but i have watched it. and i have seen what these victims have gone through. and whenever this litigation is concluded, i've always had an open-door policy, and i've always welcomed the opportunity to sit down. and i think it'd be really healthy for prosecutors to sometimes circle back and really hear about what happened. because we all have to learn, you know, one of the questions that came up at my confirmation hearing was what would you do
differently. and i alluded to this. and i said the world is much more transparent. we expect a lot more from government. we are a less trusting society. we can wonder whether that's right or wrong, but we are a less trusting society today. in part because our culture expects transparency. and so to sit down and hear from victims how this impacted them, i think would be healthy for prosecutors generally. i can't commit in this particular case, it's in litigation. but i think that would be healthy for prosecutors generally. thank you very much. >> secretary of labor alex acosta giving his version of what happened when he gave registered sex offender jeffrey epstein what some are calling the deal of the century, declaring at the beginning of this press conference, facts are important, and facts are being
overlooked. the context here is that the plea, the agreement, the nonprosecution agreement that was given to jeffrey epstein was given to somebody who was a politically connected millionaire accused of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls. here's how secretary acosta explained his decision at the beginning of the news conference in case you missed that part. >> times have changed and coverage of this case has certainly changed since that article. facts are important, and facts are being overlooked. this matter started as a state matter. he was prosecuted initially by the state of florida and not by the u.s. attorney's office. in 2006 a grand jury convened by the state attorney, the district attorney of palm beach county reviewed the evidence and recommended a single charge. and that charge would've resulted in no jail time at all,
no registration as a sexual offender, and no restitution to the victim. further, the state attorney's office allowed epstein to self-surrender and arraigned him the following morning. simply put, the palm beach state attorney's office was ready to let epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing. >> i generally can't begin to fathom what these victims have been through. i don't think that anyone that has not been in this situation can begin to fathom. the closest i can come is to think what would i feel like if one of my girls was going through this. and i would be -- and i'm not sure i can say the way i would feel on television. but even that is different than what the victims themselves went through. and so the point i'm trying to make is everything that the victims have gone through in these cases is horrific.
and their response is entirely justified. at the same time, i think it's important to stand up for the prosecutors of my former office and make clear that what they were trying to do was help these victims. they should not be portrayed as individuals that just didn't care because they have spent a lifetime of bringing cases like this. they are individuals who really, really do care. >> all right. despite the secretary's claims that this case is different, meaning the new york case is different, that there's new evidence to, quote, more fully bring epstein to justice. the case in new york mirrors the case in florida, which acosta oversaw as u.s. attorney. the "miami herald" reporter who brought the plea deal in florida. remember the 53-page indictment referencing the original one from the mid-2000s?
the phone records, the trash polls, the witnesses who worked for epstein, that reporter julie brown is with me. she is going to join me in a moment. but first let's examine the facts of the original case back in october 2007 acosta signed off on a nonfederal prosecution agreement with epstein. it stated that epstein would not face charges for up to five specific federal criminal violations as long as he complied with a state plea agreement. that agreement required epstein plead guilty to two prostitution charges, register as a sex offender and serve 13 months in a county facility rather than a state prison which allowed him to leave prison six ways a week to work from his office. as the "miami herald" found in november, quote, the deal essentially shut down an ongoing fbi probe into where there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in epstein's sex crimes. as part of the agreement acosta agreed despite a federal law to the contrary that the deal would be kept from the victims, end
quote. after combing through a trove of information in court documents, the "miami herald" reported that email after email, acosta and the lead federal prosecutor acquiesced to epstein's legal team's demands which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in miami instead of palm beach where epstein's victims lived. we've reached out to the palm beach county prosecutor's office to hear what they've got to say about what acosta said about them. we've got no comment on that from them, but we have our team covering all angles of the story. joining me now from the department of labor, peter alexander who was at that press conference that we just finished listening to, and he asked a question or two there. and nbc's investigations correspondent tim winter who has been focusing on this very closely over the last few days. peter, let's start with you. what was your big takeaway from
this news conference? >> reporter: well, there were a series of headlines that i think we're going to leave this news conference with. he was asked on multiple occasions whether he would apologize to the victims. he did not do that. he was asked again and again, said the best he could do to sort of understand their plight was to think about his own young daughters in a situation like this. but again to be clear at this point, ali, this is now effectively in the hands of president trump, the fate of alex acosta. acosta in his opening remarks said that there is an outstanding relationship that he has with the president. he said that he received a call today from mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff. there has been reporting from msnbc and other that mulvaney is among those aides who have expressed frustration over the fact that acosta hasn't done more to pursue a presidential priority which is deregulation. but one thing that really struck me from the conversation here today was the fact that acosta said he's been paying attention
to the cases surrounding jeffrey epstein over the course of the more than ten years since he was involved in that case in the southern district of florida. and he said that he was satisfied, that he was pleased to see that new york had pursued some of these allegations that it continued investigating that it would be bringing charges, which raised the question why he didn't continue investigating, given all those allegations. and that's part of what i asked him a short time ago. take a listen. >> reporter: to be clear, dozens of girls were allegedly molested. why didn't you just keep investigating in that follow-up? >> so, the victims of which we were aware were part of this. and under the agreement in the southern district of florida, the investigation ceased and they had the opportunity to proceed civilly. that does not mean that the
investigation had to cease nationwide. and as we see today, as we saw in new york, investigations could certainly and obviously have proceeded in other districts. >> reporter: acosta and his comments expressed frustration with the state prosecutors who were involved in this case, effectively saying that he swooped in, was able to secure jeffrey epstein's spending any time behind bars. that ultimately was just 13 months. when asked about the work release that allowed acosta to spend much of each day, six out of seven days a week he spent at his office in the palm beach area even under the course of his time in jail. acosta said he viewed that as b.s. ali? >> all right. thank you very much, peter, for that. as promised joining me now is "miami herald" investigative reporter julie brown who wrote the three-part article as well as nearly 80 possible victims. julie, you have been sitting here with me through this
listening to it. >> there's a lot of questions i have for you, but nobody in the country i think knows the story other than the victims as well as you do. what's your reaction to what alex acosta said? >> well, there was a lot to unpack here, and i sort of divided it into two areas. number one, he talked about the agreement itself, the evidence, the investigation, how it was difficult in these case. and these cases of course are difficult. but it is the job of these prosecutors, highly trained prosecutors to be able to talk to these victims and to understand where they're coming from. and, you know, i think because there were maybe -- and there were women that were reluctant to talk about and to go to trial, but you didn't need all 30 to go to trial. sex offenders and sex traffickers have gone to prison for a very long time on far less evidence. number one. and then the second part of this is the secrecy part of it. you know, this idea that he
thought that somehow the case would be compromised if they knew that they might get some restitution to it. and that they use that. i did see that in the case file that that was the argument. but you didn't have to tell them about the restitution. you could have told them, look, we came up with a deal. this is what he's going to get. and at least lead them through the process. i know for a fact that some of these women were trying to call prosecutors, federal prosecutors, and say what's going on. they weren't getting any phone calls back. it was clearly designed and secretly done so that they didn't know about it. and they also when the judge ruled this as part of his recent decision, they were not only not told, they were misled to believe that the case was ongoing. and so there is a lot of different things in here he talked about, the meeting and how the deal had been signed by
the meeting, that october meeting. well, yes, there was a piece of paper that was signed, but they were still really in the thick of negotiations, and it was certainly still talking about there was a follow-up letter from one of epstein's lawyers that went to mr. acosta that said thank you very much for your agreement to keep this all secret. and it was clear that that part of the agreement was discussed at that meeting that he had called some kind of false facts or fake news kind of thing about that meeting. well, the reality was their negotiations were still going through all the way through till june when he finally plead because he appealed to the justice department. there were all kinds of talks still going on after the initial signing of that agreement. >> let me bring -- i've got tom winter here, and i believe i've got barbara mcquaid with me, former prosecutor from the eastern district of michigan. and, barbara, your expertise in this is going to be specific because you have held the position like alex acosta had. as you parse what he said about
what happened in miami about the deal that he formulated, alex acosta would have the public believe that if his office had not stepped in, there was some yet more sweetheart of a deal that jeffrey epstein was going to get. and the narrative that he is putting forward is that he saved it. because of that, alex -- jeffrey epstein is a registered sex offender and spent some time, albeit, a very unusual sentence, in jail. >> yeah. i am normally very reluctant to second guess any prosecutor, but i found several areas of his statement today to be woefully inadequate, including this one where he portrays himself as the hero of the story. if the state was proceeding in a way he found unacceptable, so what, he can let them do their thing. that doesn't in any way control what he does in his own case. they are separate entities. he even said he couldn't control what the ground jury found when they called it prostitution.
the state can do whatever it wants to do that did not in any way prevent him from pursuing the case and bring very serious charges here. >> he in response to that said something along the lines that this could have been prude. it seemed to imply the victims could've prude it anywhere else. the implication seemed to be you've got a whole country to pursue these things. do you understand what that meant? what was he trying to imply that someone else could've done something about it. >> well, i suppose in light of the fact that epstein also had victims in new york and perhaps elsewhere. but i don't think so. the victims who were victimized in florida can only vindicate their wrongs in the venue where it happened. and so federally it would have to be in the southern district florida. in the state it would have to be in the county where this conduct occurred. and so to suggest that they had other remedies, yes, that is something prosecutors look at, but the remedies i think here would be civil remedies, filing lawsuits. that's very different from bringing a sexual predator to
justice and imprisoning him where he is incapacitated and not able to harm people the way he is when he's on the outside. >> julie brown, you've been at this for a while. i thought it was interesting that the couple of times alex acosta said -- this was 2006. times were different with respect to the way we see victims of sexual assault. i don't know that they were that different in 2006. >> well, how are they different? >> -- if you don't listen to victims. >> these were 12, 13, 14-year-old girls. was it a less wrong then for what epstein did? they were children. so i don't understand that reasoning at all. >> barbara, what do you make of that? if one is mitigating why jeffrey epstein got the sentence that he was going to get and one could deliberate as to whether alex acosta's arguments were valid or not. that one seemed to strike me as unusual. i think we have all agreed that with each passing week and month and year, we get better and we
get wiser about sexual assault victims. but i'm not quite sure what the watershed was between 2006 and now if you have a child victim of sexual assault. >> well, in some arenas, norms change and it's unfair to hold someone to today's standards for conduct that happened in the past. but as he said that i was actually going back in my mind where i was in 2006, and 2007, and i remember i was at the u.s. attorney's office and we were bringing sex trafficking cases and people were horrified by the idea that children were used in sex acts. so i don't think that the enlightment of "me too" has brought about -- >> you have spent the last few days poring over the documents, the miami case, the new new york case. as you were going through this i think i saw you sort of try to compare what you knew in comparison to what alex acosta was saying. >> i'm looking at the probable cause affidavit from the palm beach police department from
what the local police department found there. am i correct that taking a picture of an underage girl in a sex act, that's production of child pornography, is that a federal charge? >> it is, and it carries with it a 15-year mandatory minimum. >> so let me read this. a.h. stated would photograph -- marching, one of the people who were covered in that nonprosecution agreement and her naked and having sex and probably displaying the photographs within the home. he stated during one visit in which she provided a massage was also present. provided the massage, marching cova and they would fondle each other's breasts. from this victim a.h. who's identified as a pseudonym only proceeded to describe the scene in which she was raped by jeffrey epstein. this probable cause affidavit was submitted before the nonprosecution agreement was
signed by jeffrey epstein. >> before. >> that is correct. and so i'm looking at this. i'm looking at, you know, according to this, what appears to be a violation of federal statute. and i'm still trying to wonder exactly what happened here in light of the statement by accosta. >> and was an identified minor at the time. >> correct. >> one of the things alex acosta said several times is prosecutors will often take a deal over the roll of the dice of the trial. but what james patterson wrote about in a book and what julie reported on, are pieces of evidence that unless you had as a prosecutor reason to believe that the witnesses were unreliable and the victims were unreliable, which may have been the case, it may have been what motivated alex acosta. why not pursue a case that would result in a more serious sentence than what ended up happening? >> yeah. and he used the term "roll the dice." and that is a term that trial
lawyers use because you never know what a juror might do. these cases are difficult, especially if you have child witnesses that you're going to have to rely on. you don't want to have to revictimize them. so taking a sure thing plea does have value. but if you've got evidence of child pornography with a 15-year mandatory minimum, that's a great backstop count to include in your case. and often times what you see is charging the riskier charge of sex trafficking like this one with the fear that perhaps the victims won't testify as strongly as you might like them to, but including a child porn charge in there makes it very strong because the evidence is very difficult to refute because jurors can see it for themselves. >> julie, one of the things in your remarkable reporting, and i think the country owes you a debt of gratitude for the remarkable you and your newspaper have put into this, that the secretary referenced and the prosecutors in new york
referenced. is a discussion about the victims. the degree to which in so many of these cases we are by nature focused on the perpetrator and the justice system but not the victims. talk to us about these victims. we have heard them referred to as various things. but as you have pointed out, they were children. >> yeah. they were -- and vulnerable children who came. one of the women that i interviewed, she was living part of her life under an overpass, and she was actually getting good grades. she was an a-student. she had this sort of secret life because she didn't have a home. her parents were on drugs. and she was showering at the gym before anybody else got to school. i mean, this is the kind of life one girl told me, you know, i was wearing the same pair of shoes for three years because my parents couldn't afford new shoes. so he preyed on these kind of women because he thought that prosecutors and people like that wouldn't believe them.
and that's what happened. >> did your reporting show that to be likely? is it possible that when your victims are vulnerable, poor, outside of the mainstream of society, versus one of the most powerful, wealthy, men in the country, that power dynamic is real, it exists. >> right. i would venture to say that if this, god forbid it would happen to mr. acosta's daughters, which, you know, i wouldn't even want to think about, but i would venture to say that he would do such a thorough investigation and go after that person to make sure and here's what's key. to make sure that this person never is able to do that again. and, you know, that's what this is about. we don't know what he did after he left his 13-month stance here. you know, he's been traveling the world in a private jet and living on an island in the u.s.
virgin islands. >> and there's more about that to come out. but a new accuser has come forward with her account of alleged sexual assault by jeffrey epstein. jennifer arose was 15 years old when he said epstein forcibly raped her in his new york city townhouse. she spoke exclusively to my colleague. and i want to ask my guests to stay with me, but a warning here. these allegations are disturbing and grachdget. >> when you first met him, whank you think, what did he say? >> very nice. basically saying that, you know, he's heard a lot about me. you know, the recruiter was talking such nice things. >> she said she was served wine in epstein's kitchen and they talked. when she left she says she was given $300 and was repeatedly invited back. >> the secretary would contact me and say are you free, can you come by?
epstein would like to see you. she became familiar with the eccentricities inside his home. >> he had a lot of artwork with nudity and women. very suggestive. we had like a bathtub that was kind of like opened and there were prosthetic breasts that he could play with while he was taking a bath, i guess. it was very odd. >> and the painting that was literally, like, the massage table would be here, and this painting would be right here. and it was like a very pretty naked woman. he used to always say that i looked like her. >> she said after a few weeks of visits she was escorted to what epstein called his favorite room in the house, the massage room, and things turned physical. >> at that moment, but at the same time i was scared, too, because i didn't know if he would get angry. so i kind of just followed. i would have just my underwear on. because that's how he liked it.
i was telling him to stop, please stop. >> and did he? >> no, he did not. he had no intention of stopping. that's what he wanted. that's what he got when he left there. >> you never went back? >> after that day, no, i never went back. i was terrified. because i didn't want that to happen again. >> and you left school. did you leave the school because it was in the same neighborhood? >> yeah, it was so close. >> in your mind did you use the word rape? did you recognize it then as rape? >> no, no, i don't think i did. i just thought like, you know, it's my fault. like i was like obligated, that's just what you're supposed to do. so i really did not know better. >> when did you stop blaming
yourself? >> it was a long time really. >> epstein's staff continued to reach out for her for more than a year but she did not respond. she said she immediately did not tell anyone, including the police, something she says she now regrets. did jeffrey epstein rape you? >> yeah, he raped me. forcefully raped me, knew exactly what he was doing, and i don't think cared. what hurts even more so is i wasn't afra -- if i wasn't afraid to come forward sooner, maybe he wouldn't have done it to other girls. to this day i feel very guilty. >> we should note arosia's not part of the southern district of new york case against epstein who on monday pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges. rose never went to authorities with her allegations but later shared them with her mother,
ex-boyfriend and who close friends, which nbc news has confirmed. epstein has not responded to multiple requests for comment but in previous conversations, his lawyers have challenged her credibility. this afternoon i had a chance to talk to tarana burkes, civil rights activist and founder of the me too movement. here's how she responded to rosa's allegations. >> she was a child. particularly in children, they're made to feel complicit in their own abuse. you're talking about a young girl who was manipulated and used and lured in with money and proximity to power and wealth and took advantage of that, and then it turned on her. so that leaves her feeling guilty about what she did. >> because she opened a door to it or she allowed that door to be opened and it escalated into something that was rape. >> right, you don't realize, you were manipulated into that. you have this person and think about all of the complexity
around it. there's epstein who is ultimately responsible. >> who lured her in. >> and this recruiter who comes to get her but her focus is on what she did because we raise girls in this country to believe they are responsible for their own safety, and the adults around them are not. so when this young girl is violated, she feels responsible when really everybody else failed her. >> i want to bring my panel back in. barb mcquade, julie brown, "the miami herald" investigative reporter, and tom is with us again. tom's been covering the legal aspect of this. tom, i just want to bring us up to speed on palm beach county. >> so the palm beach county state attorney, the people that are now in that office and now leaving that office, had no connection to this case. as a matter of fact, i know from discussions with them this is a case that has deeply troubled them. the way the case was handled deeply troubled them. so i know in the initial part of the show we're being responsible and reaching out for comment, particularly in light of what the press secretary said in his press conference. that goes to a former state
attorney, somebody we had tried to reach out to on multiple occasions in the past, the last six months or so, and that's somebody we will continue to seek answers to. really alex acosta did put this at his footsteps. on the other hand, investigators who investigated this in palm beach raised concerns about this. in the document we talked about before, his office's unusual, that's a quote, handling of that case at the time and they wanted to move forward with charges in 2006, which predates that non-prosecution agreement. >> this is a huge point. i just need to you restate this point for our audience, that something you talked about, about the creation of child pornography, filming of an interaction between an unnamed minor and one of jeffrey epstein's associates, they filmed that. and that was known to prosecutors before the non-prosecution agreement. >> that was known to at least the palm beach police department
and to -- as well as to the state attorney general's office, who they presented this information to, presumably this information would have been shared with federal law enforcement, who are working together. julie's reporting on this is frankly a lot stronger and you would know a little bit more about the interaction between the two, but this is information that was at least known to some law enforcement prior to all of this. >> julie, is this a law enforcement failure, prosecution failure? what is this? it sounds like a failure on a lot of levels by a lot of people. >> it was, but it was not the palm beach police. they did just a brilliant job of investigating this case. the problem is, and you talked about the pornography, listen, they had enough evidence to know there was a lot of stuff on his computers but when the police showed up to get those computers, they were gone so he was tipped off. the police said where are your computers? well, they're in a safe place. they're in our lawyers' office.
so the police go to barry krisher, the state attorney, and say we have to get a subpoena and get those computers. it never happened. nobody ever went after his computers. krisher didn't go after them, the feds didn't go after them. and after the plea agreement epstein's lawyers sent the feds a lawyer saying we want all of our stuff back you seized and everybody signed off on it. >> barbara mcquade, how does that happen? >> i don't know. it's unheard of. you would absolutely look at the computers. in a case where someone is engaged in sexual misconduct, it's an obvious point to look at the computers to see if there's evidence of child pornography. especially if you have photos as top described, it would be easy enough to get probable cause to search the computers and very likely the possibility of finding strong evidence of an easy-to-prove charge of child pornography. as i said, it often doesn't require any child witness whatsoever, the evidence speaks
for itself. i don't know why that would happen. >> clearly somebody's defense attorney is going to object and say it's in a safe and you've got to get subpoenas and what you got to get. but isn't that something our system exists for, barbara, a prosecutor like you to say we have compelling information that suggests there may have been the production of child pornography or assault of a minor? >> you would need probable cause to show evidence of a crime on the computer. and so just having a computer alone is not enough but it sounds like from what tom said that there was photos at the scene that he had photos on his walls, that you could have obtained probable cause to get into those computers. so to not look at them and give them back strikes me as odd. >> julie brown, where does this go from here? do you think what we have heard today in any way changes the trajectory of what's going to happen? >> no, i think that mr. berman seems pretty dead set at going
after this case and trying to find, obviously went to great lengths, to publicize this so new victims will come out and new witnesses too. there were other people, recruiters around the world that he allegedly used. there are also people like neal geelen maxwell, allegedly his madam that worked directly and recruited people from mar-a-lago. there are other people wrapped up in this. it will be interesting to see if there's any superseding indictments connected to this. >> i want our viewers to look at you and get a good look at you n these days sometimes rightly so journalism comes under a lot of criticism, you've done a lot for your credit to your profession, julie brown, "the miami herald" investigative reporter. i say the same thing about tom winter, who spends a lot of time going through court documents and complicated things to try to help us understand it, and bar before mcquade, who helps us analyze and make sense of things like today are very, very hard to make sense of.
thank you to the three of you. that wraps up this busy hour for me. i will see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. eastern with stephanie ruhle and then again at 3:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for watching. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. tnchs . hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in washington, d.c. where this afternoon at the urging of donald trump, the man who negotiated a lenient sentence for convicted sex offender jeffrey epstein sought to recap that deal in light of new charges of sex trafficking that have been brought against epstein by the southern district of another. acosta fighting for his reputation among human beings with a conscience, news accounts saying donald trump is giving zero consideration for firing acosta at in moment for letting an accused child sex predator off easy in miami. at a news conference a little over an hour ago at the department of labor, acosta me
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