Newly obtained documents by WSJ reveal that the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein maintained a wider circle of influential associates than previously known, including prominent figures in politics, academia, and business.
Why it matters: The documents, which detail Epstein’s schedules, meetings, and activities, show that the disgraced financier continued to enjoy access to power brokers even after his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
Key associates include:
- William Burns, CIA director since 2021, who met with Epstein in 2014 when he was deputy secretary of state. Burns’ spokesperson claims the meetings were about financial advice.
- Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House counsel under President Obama (became a top lawyer at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2020), had dozens of meetings with Epstein. Ruemmler regrets ever knowing Epstein and maintains that their interactions were professional and related to her work at Latham & Watkins LLP.
- Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, invited Epstein to campus and attempted to secure donations for the school. Botstein describes Epstein as “odd and arrogant” and eventually stopped contact with him.
- Noam Chomsky, the famed linguistics professor and political activist, had several meetings with Epstein and was scheduled to fly with him in 2015. Chomsky defends his meetings with Epstein, arguing that, at the time, Epstein had served his sentence and had a “clean slate” according to U.S. laws and norms.
Epstein’s meetings and connections:
- Epstein held multiple meetings with prominent individuals at dinners, luxury hotels, and law firm offices. His Manhattan townhouse served as a frequent meeting place.
- The documents reveal connections between Epstein and Ariane de Rothschild, CEO of Edmond de Rothschild Group, as well as Joshua Cooper Ramo, who was involved with Henry Kissinger’s consulting firm and had ties to Starbucks and FedEx.
- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Noam Chomsky met Epstein to discuss geopolitics and Israeli policies. Chomsky also had meetings with Epstein at MIT and Harvard, where Epstein had made significant donations.
- Reactions from Epstein’s associates range from regret for knowing him to denial of close relationships or wrongdoing. Many of them explain their meetings with Epstein as professional in nature.
- In response to Epstein’s donations, MIT and Harvard have implemented sanctions against faculty members and donated funds to support survivors of sexual abuse.
- Bard College, despite initial attempts to secure donations from Epstein, received only a few unsolicited donations and 66 laptops. President Leon Botstein views the lack of further funding as a “blessing in disguise.”
The bottom line: The documents shed new light on Epstein’s relationships with influential figures, demonstrating how he continued to access power even after his criminal conviction. The extent of these connections raises questions about the willingness of some individuals and institutions to overlook Epstein’s past in pursuit of personal or financial gain.