Trump praised child sex trafficking suspect: 'He likes beautiful women as much as I do'

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Trump once praised Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on Monday on child sex trafficking charges.

Leave it to Trump to have close connections to a criminal mastermind charged with multiple counts of child sex trafficking.

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was charged in federal court on Monday in New York with recruiting a "vast network of underage victims," some as young as 14, and engaging in sexual acts with them, as well as pimping the girls out to other men in his powerful social circle.

Trump has long been friends with Epstein — and he seems to have had an inkling about Epstein's proclivity for raping underage girls. Trump was quoted in a 2002 New York Magazine piece praising Epstein as a "terrific guy" who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

Federal prosecutors alleged that Epstein ran his child sex ring from 2002 to 2005 out of Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida — two locations where Trump has flagship properties and spends a large amount of time.

Federal investigators probed the allegations of child sex trafficking, but in 2008 Epstein was given a secret plea deal that saved him from serving serious jail time for his crimes. That deal was brokered by none other than Alex Acosta, then a U.S. attorney who now serves as Trump's secretary of labor.

After the Miami Herald broke the story about Acosta's involvement in shielding Epstein from serious punishment for his actions, Trump still refused to fire Acosta, who remains in Trump's Cabinet.

The Epstein case, however, is far from over, and it remains to be seen whether other federal officials will be caught up in the scandal.

Adding intrigue is the fact that the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York was investigating the Epstein case — a unit that usually investigates public officials.

It is "unusual and notable" that this is taking place, according to CNN legal analyst Ellie Honig.

"I keep thinking back to 2008 when I was in the SDNY and Public Corruption was on a seemingly routine interstate prostitution case," Honig tweeted on Sunday. That seemingly routine case, Honig added, turned out to implicate then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer in a prostitution scandal that ended his political career.

Asked on Monday about why the Public Corruption Unit was handling the Epstein case and not a human trafficking team, the U.S. attorney said "not to read too much into it."

The public, however, will likely be watching for more bombshells to drop.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.