Donald Trump’s multiple comments sending Ghislaine Maxwell kind wishes after her arrest last year have been bubbling back up on social media, after a New York federal court jury found the British socialite guilty on Wednesday of five charges related to sex trafficking. But so far, the former president has been silent now that a conviction has been handed down.
Last year, after her arrest in rural New Hampshire, the then-president had warm words for Maxwell, a fellow member of the New York and Florida social scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, a period during which Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed wide-ranging abuses.
“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is,” Mr Trump said in July of 2020.
A month later, he doubled down on his comments, during an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios.
“Yeah, I wish her well,” Mr Trump said. “I’d wish you well. I’d wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty.”
Commentators online seized on this record when a verdict was announced on Wednesday. (Maxwell plans to appeal the conviction.)
“Never forget Jeffrey Epstein is monster. And also never forget that Donald Trump wished her well when she was apprehended and locked up,” wrote podcaster Rex Chapman.
“REMINDER: Trump’s Warm Words for Ghislaine Maxwell: ‘I Just Wish Her Well’ – these are the people Trump likes,” added broadcaster Dean Obeidallah, while writer David Gardner said the guilty verdict would mean “Donald Trump is going to be so disappointed.”
The Independent has reached out to Mr Trump for comment.
Rather than commenting on the trial, Mr Trump spent the day sending out statements about the congressional investigation of the 6 January riot at the US Capitol, an effort he branded as a “Witch Hunt,” as well as criticising Joe Biden’s record on Covid.
Despite instructions from a judge to avoid “needless” name-dropping, the former president was mentioned multiple times during the Maxwell trial.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, along with disgraced actor Kevin Spacey, were all regular guests aboard Epstein’s private plane, according to his longtime pilot, who testified during the trial.
One of Maxwell’s accusers, who went by the pseudonym “Jane,” also said she was introduced to Mr Trump at the age of 14 at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
There was no suggestion during the trial of inappropriate behaviour from Mr Trump, though the former president has been accused of sexual harassment o assault by at least 18 women. He denies wrongdoing.
Epstein and Mr Trump had a well-documented friendship, being photographed together in New York and Mar-a-Lago, before the pair fell out.
In an interview with New York magazine in 2002, Mr Trump described Epstein as 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. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
After Epstein’s arrest in 2019 for sex trafficking, footage resurfaced from November 1992 showing Mr Trump partying with Epstein at Mar-a-Lago estate.
Mr Trump initially responded to news of Epstein’s death by suicide in prison in 2019 by retweeting conspiracy theories about the Clinton family, including a post that read, “Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia island.’”
The former president later said he was “not a fan” of Epstein, and described a long ago split in their relationship.
“I had a falling out a long time ago with him,” Mr Trump said at the time. “I don’t think I’ve spoken to him in 15 years.”
Mr Trump reportedly banned Epstein from Mar-a-Lago after the disgraced financier harassed the teenaged daughter of another member of the private club, according to The Grifter’s Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Selling of the Presidency,” by Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey.
“The way this person described it, such an act could irreparably harm the Trump brand, leaving Donald no choice but to remove Epstein,” Ms Blaskey told CNBC last August.