The comment about Ghislaine Maxwell sparked criticism from Republican Chip Roy of Texas, who called Trump’s comments "obtuse." Maxwell has been charged with playing a major role in the late financier’s alleged sex-trafficking ring.
President Trump drew intra-party criticism Wednesday for offering well wishes to the arrested confidant and former girlfriend of accused sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested July 2 and charged with playing a key role in the late financier’s alleged sex-trafficking operation. The indictment against Maxwell accused her of assisting Epstein "recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" girls, including one as young as 14.
On Tuesday, Trump, who knew both Epstein and Maxwell via Palm Beach social circles, said he wished Maxwell well.
"I just wish her well, frankly," Trump said in response to a question during his first coronavirus briefing in months. "I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is."
The comment about Maxwell sparked criticism from conservative Republican congressman Chip Roy of Texas, who called Trump’s comments "obtuse."
"This is unacceptably obtuse for a woman accused of the most morally depraved of crimes, @realDonaldTrump. She needs to be severely punished... and justice must be served for the girls she abused. For ALL involved," Roy tweeted.
This is unacceptably obtuse for a woman accused of the most morally depraved of crimes, @realDonaldTrump. She needs to be severely punished... and justice must be served for the girls she abused. For ALL involved. https://t.co/IslnKso0Gg— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) July 22, 2020
Epstein was arrested in the summer of 2019 and charged with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansion in Manhattan, his estate in Palm Beach and other locations. He subsequently committed suicide last August in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
After Epstein’s case, federal prosecutors said they would turn their attention to the financier’s cohorts. Less than a year later, Maxwell had been arrested.
"This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case that we brought against Jeffrey Epstein," Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said during a news conference to announce the arrest and charges.
On Tuesday, the president also said he was not familiar with the accusations against another high-profile name associated with Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking ring, Britain’s Prince Andrew. Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre said she was trafficked at the age of 17 to the English monarch. Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations.
"I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew," Trump said. "I just don’t know. I’m not aware of it."
Last year, Andrew issued a statement saying "it was a mistake and an error to see" Epstein and that he wanted to "reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know."