The Slatest

“I Wish Her Well,” Trump Says of Accused Child-Sex Trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, at Coronavirus Briefing

Donald Trump, seen full length, strides from left to right toward the lectern with the presidential seal in the White House briefing room.
Trump ahead of a news conference, as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany follows him, at the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Tuesday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump resumed his coronavirus briefings on Tuesday, after having suspended them for weeks while the pandemic spread out of control across ever-wider swaths of the country. Unlike most of his performances during the first round of coronavirus briefings, this one featured no public health experts, corporate leaders, or other guest stars; it started only slightly late and was over in much less than an hour.

There had been some political-media speculation that the resumption of the briefings could provide yet another chance, in theory, for Trump to break out of his spiral of tantrums and denunciations and to achieve a more leaderly tone. How did he do? Beyond insistently and repeatedly calling the coronavirus “the China virus,” and saying various completely untrue things about how well the United States was doing at testing its populace for the disease and how no states were experiencing any shortages of necessary equipment, Trump put in a relatively restrained and low-energy performance, relying heavily on the notes on his lectern and avoiding unrelated tangents. He made his fullest commitment yet to urging people to wear masks, though that did not extend to his wearing one himself.

Then came the question-and-answer period. After some pandemic discussion , one reporter changed the subject to ask about the accused child-sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the companion and reported accomplice of the late Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on July 2 and faces multiple charges relating to enticing and transporting minor victims for criminal sex. Did the president expect her to implicate any powerful men, like Britain’s Prince Andrew, in Epstein’s sex crimes?

“I don’t know,” Trump replied. “I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. 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 is. I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew, just don’t know. Not aware of it.”

The president of the United States admitted to a long-standing relationship with an accused sex trafficker, and twice specified that he wished her well as she faces criminal charges. There were reportedly more than 1,000 new deaths nationally due to the coronavirus on Monday, the highest figure since the end of May.

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