Let’s take a trip down memory lane to 1992, when Donald Trump attended what was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, his members-only club in Palm Beach. But other than the 28 girls flown in for entertainment, the only guests were Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.
Yup, you heard that name right. Trump was at a party with two dozen-ish girls and Epstein, the 66-year-old hedge fund manager who was charged with sex trafficking on Monday. Just Trump, an accused sex trafficker and 28 girls. Sounds about right.
Part of a “calendar girl” competition organized at Trump’s request, the party was put together by a businessman named George Houraney, who spoke with the New York Times for a story published Tuesday.
Houraney was also one of many to accuse Trump of sexual harassment, this time toward his former girlfriend and business partner, Jill Harth, who described an incident in 1997 as an attempted rape by Trump.
“I arranged to have some contestants fly in,” Houraney told the Times. “At the very first party, I said, ‘Who’s coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.’ It was him and Epstein.”
After once calling the disgraced financier a “terrific guy,” Trump is now doubling back on his words, saying Tuesday that he’s “not a fan.” Of course, that was after his 2008 conviction for soliciting underage girls for prostitution and his Monday indictment on charges of sex trafficking minors.
The charging documents allege Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations.” He pleaded not guilty on Monday.
And it seems like Epstein and Trump were pretty close, their friendship continuing despite warnings about Epstein’s behavior.
Houraney said he “pretty much had to ban Jeff” from his events, but “Trump didn’t care about that.”
Before the “calendar girl” event, Houraney warned Trump about Epstein once again.
“Look, Donald, I know Jeff really well, I can’t have him going after younger girls,” Houraney recalled telling Trump in the Times interview. “He said: ‘Look I’m putting my name on this. I wouldn’t put my name on it and have a scandal.’”
Well, looks like he got a scandal anyway—though Trump certainly has a track record of that.
Of course, Trump has been downplaying his friendship with Epstein, telling reporters that the two had a falling out 15 years ago, which the Times reports some believe is the result of a sour business deal. Yet in 2002, Trump sang a different tune.
“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years,” Trump told New York magazine back in 2002. “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.”
Yes, that is our current president saying an accused sex trafficker is fun to be with and may like beautiful—and young—girls as much as he does.
The two were clearly friends, and have been seen together in their shared Palm Beach neighborhood and frequent tabloid appearances in the 1990s and early 2000s. They hung out in the same social circles and at the same dinner parties. One of those parties was one Epstein threw for Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who’s also been accused of and vehemently denies sexually abusing minors. Seems like a lot of alleged sexual abusers in one friend group.
Trump himself has been facing slew of sexual misconduct accusations by multiple women, after all. And lest we forget the “Grab ‘em by the pussy” incident.
Check out Paste’s breakdown of the Epstein allegations here and read the full report from the New York Times here.