24 years before he was elected as President of the United States, Donald Trump reportedly asked a Florida event planner to throw a private party for him and his then-friend, billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein, at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The only other guests at the proposed 1992 party would be 28 girls flown in from out of state for a “calendar girl” competition.
The event planner, George Houraney of American Dream Enterprise, told the New York Times that he was hesitant to throw the party, as it had Jeffrey Epstein’s name attached to it, and Houraney knew that Epstein had a penchant for sexually pursuing young girls.
“I said, ‘Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You’re telling me it’s you and Epstein?’ ” Houraney recalled. “I said, ‘Look, Donald, I know Jeff really well, I can’t have him going after younger girls,’
“[Trump] said, ‘Look I’m putting my name on this. I wouldn’t put my name on it and have a scandal,’ ” Houraney added.
According to the Times, both Trump and Epstein were frequently seen together at Mar-a-Lago in the 1990s and 2000s, suggesting that the two had attended parties together at Trump’s elite resort property for at least a decade or more. Trump associates — like his longtime confidant, Roger Stone — downplayed the relationship, saying Trump treated Epstein just as he treated other guests at his club.
Mr. Epstein was never a dues-paying member of the Mar-a-Lago club, according to an official at the Trump Organization. But as a guest of a guest, he was treated like a close friend by the club’s owner and self-appointed headwaiter, Mr. Trump.
The two were photographed together there in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Trump always in a tie, Mr. Epstein always without. And in Manhattan, they attended many of the same dinner parties, like the one that Mr. Epstein hosted for Prince Andrew, where the guest list also included Ron Perelman and Mort Zuckerman, among others.
Prior to a falling out that has never been fully explained, Trump and Epstein were close friends, and their circles frequently intermingled, as both maintained homes in New York City and south Florida. In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine that he and Epstein went back for more than a decade, and called him a “terrific guy.”
“He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump said at the time. “No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
In 2008, while facing charges of sexually preying on young girls, Epstein struck a plea deal with current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who, at the time, was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. The deal gave Epstein legal immunity if he served just a 13-month jail sentence for prostitution charges. Epstein was allowed to work from a private office outside of the prison for 12 hours a day, six days a week, while staying in a secluded wing of the prison away from the general population.
Jeffrey Epstein is back in the news this week after an indictment against him was unsealed. The indictment alleges that Epstein engaged in serial sex trafficking, and that he possessed “a vast trove” of child pornography. He could serve up to 45 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.