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Epstein autopsy comes up short; cause of death remains unclear
An autopsy on Jeffrey Epstein has done little to clarify the bizarre circumstances of his death.
The 66-year-old’s official cause of death is still uncertain “pending further information,” New York City’s chief medical examiner said Sunday. A doctor requested by Epstein’s lawyers was present at the autopsy, according to Mediaite.
Mainstream media have treated Epstein’s death as an apparent suicide and pushed back on so-called “conspiracy theories.” But the mysterious death of the most high-profile criminal defendant in the United States has raised speculation of foul play, given Epstein’s connections to the rich and powerful.
Cause of death remains unclear
Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell Saturday morning and was pronounced dead hours later. New York’s chief medical examiner (ME), Dr. Barbara Sampson, said an autopsy was performed Sunday.
“The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” Sampson added in a statement. “At the request of those representing the decedent, and with the awareness of the federal prosecutor, I allowed a private pathologist [Dr. Michael Baden] to observe the autopsy examination. This is routine practice.”
Baden is a forensic pathologist known for his work in high-profile cases, like the O.J. Simpson trial and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. His attendance at the autopsy may be “routine,” but there is little about Epstein’s death that appears normal — and the autopsy will likely do little to quell the speculation and outrage.
Epstein was placed on suicide watch in July after he was discovered unconscious in his cell at the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC), where he was being held on sex trafficking charges. But he was mysteriously taken off suicide watch sometime before his death.
Oddly, guards had not checked on him for hours prior to this death, Fox News reports, despite Epstein being arguably the most high-profile prisoner in the United States. Guards were supposed to be monitoring him every half hour.
There is no surveillance video of Epstein’s death, either, since the cameras were pointed to the outside, not in the inside, of the cells in Epstein’s unit, according to the New York Post.
Epstein died one day after the release of 2,000 documents in a defamation case against Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged madame, Ghislaine Maxwell. The documents name Prince Andrew and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s former attorney, as among those who allegedly abused a then-underage girl who Epstein had trafficked.
Ties to power
Many find it hard to believe that Epstein was able to end his own life at what has been described as a highly secure prison, where it is thought to be almost impossible for inmates to kill themselves. New York Attorney General Letitia James said it is “very difficult to understand how something like this could have happened.”
Mainstream media outlets have reported Epstein’s death as a suicide with little scrutiny — while criticizing those dabbling in conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death — prompting comparisons between the media’s coverage of Epstein’s death and their treatment of the Russia conspiracy theory, which mainstream media held up as almost prophetic truth for about two years.
Given Epstein’s wide connections to the global elite, his death has become a kind of political inkblot test: for Republicans, Epstein was the victim of the Clintons, or else a worldwide cabal of decadent and depraved elites, whereas some Democrats think President Donald Trump was behind Epstein’s demise.
Epstein had some kind of past relationship with both President Trump and former President Bill Clinton. Trump hater and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has suggested that Russia was also somehow involved.
“Appalled” Barr launches probe
While there is much daylight between the different conspiracy theories, there is wide agreement that Epstein’s death is extremely unusual and an infuriating miscarriage of justice. Attorney General William Barr said that he is “appalled” and will investigate the mysterious circumstances of his death, which is being probed by the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General.
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody,” Barr said in a statement. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”
Only time will tell what Barr and the DOJ uncover.
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