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Trump says Epstein was never a Mar-a-Lago member. He was, and new book tells what got him exiled

Kevin G. Hall, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- Donald Trump severed ties with Jeffrey Epstein after the disgraced financier hit on the teenage daughter of a Mar-a-Lago member, threatening the Trump brand of glitz and glamour, according to a new book published about the president's Palm Beach club.

Trump publicly disavowed Epstein a day after the financier's arrest on July 11, 2019, saying in the Oval Office that the two hadn't spoken in 15 years after a falling out. He has also claimed that Epstein was never a Mar-a-Lago member.

"I'm not a fan of his," the president said, never disclosing why they fell out.

But a new book out Tuesday titled "The Grifter's Club" says the late sex trafficker was indeed a member and that the two stopped talking -- and Epstein was kicked off the rolls and banned from Mar-a-Lago -- following the incident with a club member's teen daughter.

Another club member explained that Trump "kicked Epstein out after Epstein harassed the daughter of a member. The way this person described it, such an act could irreparably harm the Trump brand, leaving Donald no choice but to remove Epstein," said Sarah Blaskey, a Miami Herald investigative reporter who co-wrote the book with Miami Herald journalists Nicholas Nehamas and Jay Weaver and Caitlin Ostroff of the Wall Street Journal. "The Trump Organization did not respond to our requests for comment on this or other matters."

A footnote in the book says the authors were shown the club's registry from more than a decade earlier and that Epstein in fact had been a member until October 2007.

 

"The member lists we saw were essentially spreadsheets. They listed current members, honorary members and former members. Red cells indicate the closed account details for former members," explained co-author Nehamas. "Most closed accounts are labeled 'Resigned' and then the date that the membership ended. Epstein's account says 'Account closed 10/07.'"

The two wealthy men ran in the same circles until the falling out, as videos and photographs widely circulated on the internet show.

The reason for the falling out further calls into question why Trump, when asked at the White House podium recently about last month's sex-trafficking arrest of Epstein's alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, said "I wish her well." Up until the falling out in 2007, Maxwell and Epstein appeared in numerous photos with Trump and his now-wife Melania.

"I think the comments show the difficulty Trump and Palm Beachers have in acknowledging abhorrent behavior in people they consider part of their social circle," Blaskey said. "When reporting this book, we heard many times that Epstein's victims had done pretty well financially, despite the abuse, and shouldn't really be pitied. It was sickening."

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