What Donald Trump's Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein Was Like

The crimes of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell have been some of the most shocking revelations to hit the headlines in recent years. Convicted sex offender Epstein died while facing sex trafficking charges, while Maxwell was sentenced to prison for 20 years for the same crimes. Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown identified 80 young women and girls now identified as potential victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking in the 2006 investigation that ultimately ended with Epstein being charged with soliciting prostitution from a minor, according to NPR. But what has driven the story's coverage in the mainstream media, on social media, and in internet forums is the pair's proximity to some of the world's most powerful figures, such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

Trump's association with Epstein has long been known. However, their relationship came under the spotlight in 2019, when, in the wake of Epstein's arrest for alleged sex trafficking, footage was released of the pair laughing and partying with women at a gathering in 1992. In 2024, unsealed documents from a 2015 civil lawsuit filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre again named Trump, though he was not accused of wrongdoing. Several photographs of Trump and Epstein together have long been public, and it appears that the two wealthy men were friends for many years. 

Trump claimed he and Epstein shared a taste for women

That Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein had a close relationship that lasted many years is evidenced by a 2002 profile of the disgraced financier published in New York Magazine. The profile makes for uncomfortable reading today due to its fawning over his A-list connections as well as its nod to Epstein's predilection for women and parties. 

Part of the party lifestyle portrait is painted by Trump, who is effusive in his praise for the financier, stating: "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with." But Trump also eerily foreshadowed the later revelations concerning Epstein's sexual crimes, particularly those involving minors, adding: "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."

Trump and Epstein met in the late 1980s. Besides a penchant for young attractive women, they had plenty in common. Both were wealthy mover and shaker types who were well known in high society social circles in both Palm Beach, Florida, and New York. As such, according to The Washington Post, the men regularly flew on private planes together, bouncing from Mar-a-Lago to Manhattan spending time and each other's homes, and attending the same events. An anonymous source told the Washington Post, "They were tight. They were each other's wingmen." However, another thing they had in common was an attraction to lavish properties, which may have been the undoing of their friendship.

They reportedly grew distant

Jeffrey Epstein is one of the most notorious sex offenders in recent memory, so it's no surprise, then, that Donald Trump — who was still the president of the United States at the time of Epstein's arrest on sex trafficking charges — would want to distance himself from his former friend.

Asked in a White House presser about his friendship with Epstein, Trump claimed that his acquaintance with the financier was no closer than that of anyone else who knew him from Palm Beach, Florida. In a clip from the 2019 interview, the president states that he and Epstein had fallen out around 15 years prior, which would date the end of their friendship to about 2004. "I was not a fan of his," Trump adds, despite his earlier praise. While Trump didn't give a reason, The Washington Post reported in 2019 that the grift came after both men were vying for the same Palm Beach oceanfront mansion. After a bitter bidding war, Trump got the property. Years later, during his presidency, he said of his falling out with Epstein, "The reason doesn't make any difference, frankly."

But as Business Insider reported in March 2023, Epstein's brother, Mark, suggested it was Epstein who took steps to distance himself from Trump. Specifically, Mark told the outlet the financier came to believe that Trump was a "crook." Elsewhere, the book "The Grifter's Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Selling of the Presidency" — written by Miami Herald journalists — said Trump banned Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2007. The accused sex trafficker allegedly hit on another member's teenage daughter.