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Bill Clinton Is Coming to Miami Mere Days After Herald's Epstein Rape InvestigationEXPAND
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Bill Clinton Is Coming to Miami Mere Days After Herald's Epstein Rape Investigation

Former president and repeatedly accused rapist Bill Clinton is coming to Miami this Saturday, where he'll help raise funds for incoming congresswoman and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who has a bunch of debt left over from her campaign, according to the Miami Herald.

The news, however, is not simply that Clinton is coming to Miami. This sort of fundraiser happens all the time here. What's noteworthy is that Clinton is coming to Miami four days after the Miami Herald published a stunning investigation into his noted friend, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex criminal who is accused of raping or abusing at least 80 underage girls.

Epstein infamously operated a private airplane called the "Lolita Express," in which he allegedly assaulted girls. Clinton, along with Donald Trump, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and British Prince Andrew, were listed on the plane's flight logs. The financier also owned a private island where it was alleged he held orgies and abused girls. Epstein's "little black book" included contacts for a smorgasbord of famous people (who have not been linked to his sex crimes), including former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Ted Kennedy, David Koch, scores of current and former politicians, and many others.

Though the Epstein story has been public knowledge for years, its full, horrible extent was not known until yesterday, when veteran Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown published a damning report about Epstein's alleged crimes. Brown spent a full year researching the story. She spoke with 80 women who said that Epstein raped or otherwise sexually abused them when they were minors and that he ran a "pyramid scheme" in which girls were paid to recruit other underage girls to give him "massages." One victim, Virginia Roberts, told the Herald that Epstein and his assistants personally groomed her to have sex with him and other men and that she was trafficked to his private island, called "Little Saint James," where she was "lent out" to "politicians, academics, and royalty." In January 2015, she stated in court that Epstein forced her to have sex with Dershowitz and Prince Andrew, claims both men deny. Her case was settled out of court.

Brown also detailed how former U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who is now Trump's secretary of labor, gave Epstein an extraordinarily lenient plea deal that required only 13 months in jail and provided the offender time to hang out in a cushy Palm Beach office on work release. Portions of the deal were so kind to Epstein that the legal terms violated federal law. The deal stood anyway.

Epstein had a habit of hanging out with famous people — including celebrity models and chefs, as well as accused (and, in some cases, convicted) sex criminals. He was friends with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Woody Allen, for example. Trump, a man who is himself accused of assaulting tons of women and has bragged on tape about doing so, has also boasted about hanging out with Epstein. Trump was sued in 2016 by a woman who claims the president and Epstein raped her when she was age 13, though she later dropped her suit.

But according to flight logs published years ago by the now-defunct website Gawker (RIP), one of the most frequent celebrities on the Lolita Express was Clinton himself. Though no direct evidence has tied the former president to Epstein's sex crimes, the Clintons have also never really explained why they were so close to Epstein or what Bill was doing on all of those jet rides. According to records Gawker obtained, Clinton flew on Epstein's plane alongside a softcore-porn actress whom Epstein stated in flight logs was there for "massages." Epstein also reportedly had 21 contact numbers and email addresses for Bill Clinton. In all, the former president reportedly flew on Epstein's plane 26 times, and on multiple occasions, he declined to have the Secret Service accompany him onboard.

"It's called 'Lolita Express' for a reason," Roberts, one of the alleged victims, told the Herald on video. "That was a vessel for him to abuse girls and get away with it without anybody being alarmed or alarm bells going off."

Of course, there would be a media firestorm if Shalala or Clinton canceled the fundraising event after the Herald exposé was published, and many critics would take it as a sign that Clinton indeed did something wrong while with Epstein. Clinton's popularity has taken a nosedive the past few years, thanks in part to the #MeToo movement pushing Americans to take Clinton's many sexual-assault (and other consent-related) scandals more seriously. (Likewise, many of his other statements and actions, including his support for the War on Drugs and other policies that harshly affected black Americans, look pretty bad in hindsight.) Shalala has stood by Clinton through it all — no matter how bad the ex-president's reputation looks.

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