In a Judiciary Committee hearing with Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer, Kennedy claimed the public doesn’t believe the New York City medical examiner’s conclusion that Epstein, who was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges, hanged himself at Metropolitan Correctional Center.
“Christmas ornaments, drywall and [Jeffrey] Epstein ― name three things that don’t hang themselves,” Kennedy said. “That’s what the American people think ... and they deserve some answers.”
Kennedy, appearing unsatisfied by Sawyer’s response to his line of questioning on justice for criminals, asked her to deliver a message to FBI officials probing Epstein’s death: “Tell the American people what happened, and don’t rush it so that they don’t do a thorough investigation.”
Epstein was declared dead in August after being found unconscious in his cell at age 66. His death sparked a wave of conspiratorial speculation online that Bill or Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or another individual had Epstein killed because they feared they would be implicated in his sex trafficking trial. Although Epstein had ties to the Clintons, Bill Clinton has not been accused of any sexual misconduct related to Epstein. Epstein and Trump appear to have been social acquaintances. Trump was accused in just one Epstein-related lawsuit, though there was no corroborating evidence for the claim and many journalists concluded it may have been a smear campaign. There is no evidence the Clintons or Trump had anything to do with the billionaire’s death.
Epstein had apparently tried to kill himself in July, and his death came less than two weeks after prison staff asked that he be taken off suicide watch, then failed to check on him as was required, The New York Times reported. According to The Associated Press, corrections officers on his unit were being stretched thin on overtime shifts.
Shortly before Kennedy’s remarks on Tuesday, Toval Noel and Michael Thomas, two employees who were supposed to be guarding Epstein, were charged with conspiracy and falsifying records for neglecting to monitor him and fabricating log entries claiming they had.
A grand jury indictment appeared to address lingering suspicions over Epstein’s death.
“Aside from those two officers, as confirmed by video surveillance, no one else entered the [Special Housing Unit], no one conducted any counts or rounds throughout the night, and no one entered the tier in which Epstein was housed,” it read.
In a statement, Sawyer did not explicitly say whether Noel and Thomas would face consequences.
“Any allegations of misconduct are taken very seriously by the agency
and will be responded to appropriately,” she said. “I am committed to this agency and am confident we will restore the public’s trust in us.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.