Relationships between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and some of the world’s most prominent people are already well known. Among them: CEOs Bill Gates, Lex Wexner, Leon Black, Jes Staley; former U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton; tarnished celebrities Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen; and Prince Andrew of the British Royal Family.
A new expose that dropped this week by The Wall Street Journal reveals Epstein’s circle of associates also included William Burns, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency since 2021; Kathryn Ruemmler, a White House Counsel under President Barack Obama and now a top lawyer at Goldman Sachs; Leon Botstein, president of Bard College; Ariane de Rothschild, chief executive of Swiss private bank Edmond de Rothschild Group; and renowned professor, author and academic, Noam Chomsky.
The names emerged from a set of private calendar files kept by Epstein, including thousands of pages of schedules and emails from 2013 to 2017. The Journal did not disclose how it came across the files in its story.
The CIA’s Burns, who was deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama, had three meetings with Epstein in 2014, according to the Journal.
Those meetings were held in Washington, while Burns worked for Obama, and also at Epstein’s opulent Manhattan townhouse. Burns, a former ambassador to Russia, said through a CIA spokesperson that he “did not know anything about him,” referring to Epstein, was unaware of Epstein’s criminal record as a convicted sex offender and “they had no relationship.”
Ruemmler had more than three dozen meetings with Epstein, including social gatherings, and was scheduled to fly with Epstein to Paris in 2015. Epstein also planned to fly her to his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. Ruemmler denies taking any flights or visiting the notorious island and says “I regret ever knowing Jeffrey Epstein.”
Chomsky met with Epstein several times in 2015 and 2016, while he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These visits included socializing with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and, according to the files, a planned flight with Chomsky and Epstein for dinner with Woody Allen and his wife, Soon-Yi Previn.
When questioned about Epstein, Chomsky, somewhat shockingly, told the Journal, “First response is that it is none of your business,” before eventually admitting he sometimes met with Epstein. Speaking about the flight with Epstein to see Allen, Chomsky told the newspaper he did not remember it, but added, “I’m unaware of the principle that requires I inform you about an evening spent with a great artist.”
Other accounts given by Bard’s Botstein and de Rothschild were equally jarring, with Epstein taking young women to see concerts at Bard and de Rothschild negotiating a $25 million contract between her bank and one of Epstein’s questionable financial companies. In the past, de Rothschild’s bank stated she never met with Epstein and had no business ties to him, but the unearthed files showed she had more than a dozen meetings with him and the bank was forced to acknowledge its earlier statement wasn’t accurate. It said de Rothschild did not know Epstein was a convicted sex offender.
Botstein, who had about two dozen meetings with Epstein over four years, mostly at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, said he was, indeed, aware that Epstein brought young women to Bard’s concerts and that he was “a convicted felon for a sex crime” but also believed in “rehabilitation.”
An excellent investigation and a deeply disturbing read, the Journal investigation calls to mind former U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s chilling words about how when he faced off against Epstein (disastrously) earlier in his legal career, he was told to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade and that “Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone.”
It appears it will ultimately be up to journalists to chip away the truth from the Epstein story.