"Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department's inspector general would open an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death in federal custody. While Mr. Epstein will never face a legal reckoning, the investigations into his crimes, and those of others connected to him, must continue. His premature death shouldn't stop law enforcement authorities from finishing the job that they finally took up seriously years after they should have."
This is cynical claptrap: The Times knows full well that Epstein's death, without a trial or conviction (technically, Epstein dies an innocent man, at least on the most recent charges), will effectively end the investigation. There is no longer the danger of a plea deal, which Epstein's lawyers would certainly have attempted to negotiate in return for his testimony in trials of others whom he might have implicated in the alleged sex-trafficking ring.
The Times does not raise these obvious issues, let alone demand a criminal investigation and public hearings into the circumstances of Epstein's highly suspicious death.
Any elementary review of the facts makes clear that Epstein's death must be treated as a criminal investigation. Only 24 hours before his death, more than 2,000 pages of documents were released by a Florida court in a civil suit brought by one of the women who has charged Epstein with enslaving her as a teenager as part of his systematic abuse of young girls. The woman filed a defamation suit against Epstein's partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly had acted as a procuress, recruiting teenage girls to service him.
Maxwell is herself a product of the super-rich milieu that vomited up Epstein. She is the daughter of the late British billionaire publisher Robert Maxwell, also the target of numerous allegations of fraud and other financial crimes.
In a grisly similarity, Robert Maxwell died under mysterious circumstances in 1991, when he allegedly fell off his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine (named after the daughter), and his naked body was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean several days later. The death was ruled accidental, although both suicide and homicide were widely suggested at the time.
The documents released Thursday named a number of prominent political and society figures as patrons of Epstein's sex ring, including two top Democrats, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and former governor and Clinton cabinet member Bill Richardson, a one-time presidential candidate, as well as Prince Andrew, second son of the Queen of England.
Whatever the truth of the allegations against these individuals, there is no question that Epstein was for many years an integral part of the financial and political elite in the United States, hobnobbing with former presidents like Bill Clinton and future presidents -- and equally corrupt billionaires -- like Donald Trump.
Epstein was a Palm Beach neighbor of Trump, and some of the girls he abused were recruited at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. That circumstance may account for Trump's extraordinary response to the news of Epstein's death, as he retweeted a right-wing supporter's suggestion that Epstein was murdered at the orders of Bill Clinton.
The death of Epstein so obviously invites the assumption that this is a case of removing an inconvenient personality, one who could have implicated dozens if not hundreds of powerful people if he were finally brought to trial, that the official claim of suicide made possible by neglect on the part of low-ranking prison guards has been greeted with disbelief. Epstein's death evokes recollections of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather.
The Epstein case, in all its criminal depravity, sheds light on the state of American capitalist society. The super-rich prey upon the poor and the vulnerable, using them as they wish. They make use of their connections to cover up their crimes, or, depending on the circumstances, arrange for the elimination of those former friends and associates whose activities have become an inconvenience or a danger.