Don Jr. hypes Jeffrey Epstein victim’s recanted claims — but leaves his dad’s name off the list

"This seems like a big deal if true why has nothing been done about it?" Donald Trump Jr. tweeted

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published January 9, 2024 12:15PM (EST)

Donald Trump Jr. speaks as he leaves the courtroom after testifying in his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 13, 2023 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Donald Trump Jr. speaks as he leaves the courtroom after testifying in his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on November 13, 2023 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Another spate of court documents was unsealed Monday in the rolling disclosure of files connected to convicted trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking operation. Right-wingers jumped on salacious accusations against former President Bill Clinton, while failing to mention those against former President Donald Trump, whose alleged "sexual proclivities" are also detailed in the filing.

Several media outlets, including Sky News, the New York Post and The Guardian, ran stories following Monday's unsealing reporting that a witness claimed in a series of emails that Epstein had "sex tapes" of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Sir Richard Branson, many of them also mentioning in the body of the article that Trump had also been accused of appearing in those videos. The witness, alleged Epstein victim Sarah Ransome, later recanted her claims

According to The Messenger, Ransome allegedly wrote that her friend had sex with Trump on "regular occasions" at Epstein's mansion, and recalled meeting her for coffee once before she was scheduled to meet them both at the Manhattan townhouse. 

“She confided in me about her casual 'friendship' with Donald. Mr. Trump definitely seemed to have a thing for her and she told me how he kept going on about how he liked her 'pert nipples,’” Ransome wrote, according to the court filing.

“Donald Trump liked flicking and sucking her nipples until they were raw. One evening when we were showering together she showed me her nipples. They looked incredibly painful as they were red and swollen and I remember wincing when I looked at them,” the email allegedly reads.

A spokesperson for Trump said that the claims were baseless. 

“These baseless accusations have been fully retracted because they are simply false and have no merit,” Steven Cheung said in a statement. 

Ransome, according to Rolling Stone, had claimed to have these materials on multiple occasions, writing in another instance, "[M]y friend had sexual intercourse with Clinton, Prince Andrew and Richard Branson, sex tapes were in fact filmed on each separate occasion. I eventually managed to persuade her to send me some of the video footage which she kept, implicating all three men … I have backed up the footage on several USB sticks and have securely sent them to various different locations throughout Europe."

All have denied any wrongdoing, with Branson dubbing the claims "invented" and "baseless."

In other messages Ransome claimed the CIA had hacked her emails and that “Special Agents Forces Men sent directly by Hilary [sic] Clinton herself" visited her, also promising to leak damaging images and footage to WikiLeaks to derail both Clinton and Trump's 2016 presidential campaigns.

The document detailing the alleged tapes shows that the legal team of attorney and Epstein associate Alan Dershowitz, whom Ransome had claimed in an affidavit Epstein instructed her to have sex with, pursued a removal of the "confidentiality designation" on the emails, seeking to undermine Ransome's credibility by showing her "inflammatory, salacious, and defamatory testimony concerning [Dershowitz] and others is false."

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Ransome later retracted the allegations in a separate email to journalist Maureen Callahan, writing that she had to step away from the story because of "bad things" that could result, court records showed, per The Messenger.

“I have spoken to my family at some length this morning and I would like to retract everything I have said to you and walk away from this,” Ransome allegedly wrote in October 2016. 

“I shouldn't have contacted you and I'm sorry I wasted your time. It's not worth coming forward and I will never be heard anyhow and only bad things will happen as a consequence of me going public and I know this to be true,” she allegedly added. 

When interviewed for a New Yorker article on Dershowitz in 2019, Ransome also walked back the allegations. 

“In the fall of 2016, she had suggested to the New York Post that she had sex tapes of half a dozen prominent people, including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — but couldn’t provide the tapes when asked,” reporter Connie Bruck wrote, adding, “(Ransome told me that she had invented the tapes to draw attention to Epstein’s behavior, and to make him believe that she had ‘evidence that would come out if he harmed me.’)”

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In their rush to publicize the details of the new batch of documents, conservative influencers neglected to note Ransome's retractions and often left out Trump's inclusion in the filing. 

Right-wing conspiracy theorists and misinformation pushers, including Chuck Castello and Laura Loomer, jumped on the reports. Loomer wrote, "BILL CLINTON PEDO SEX TAPE," while A QAnon-affiliated X user posted an unfounded claim that "the FBI covered this up" after receiving payouts from the Clinton Foundation, according to Rolling Stone.

Donald Trump Jr. also latched onto the accusations, writing on X/Twitter Monday afternoon, "This seems like a big deal if true why has nothing been done about it?" over a headline that read, "Breaking News: Court documents allege Jeffrey Epstein recorded sex tapes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, and Sir Richard Branson," but excluding Trump's name.

Liberals, Rolling Stone notes, largely highlighted the claims in the same document that Trump Sr. sexually abused an underage girl, with the Independent writing that “Donald Trump’s alleged ‘sexual proclivities’” were “graphically detailed in new Epstein documents" and Newsweek dubbing Monday's documents the "Worst One for Trump Yet." 

The released documents so far have largely outlined details and names already widely known to be linked to Epstein after years of interconnected legal battles. But the right-wing media furor over their unsealing presses on, according to Rolling Stone, as they hold "out hope that the newly unsealed Epstein documents can land prominent Democrats in deep trouble and somehow shake up the 2024 race."

Independent presidential candidate and avid conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a Monday campaign email echoed a previous call for a "total and complete release of the Epstein Files," despite revealing in the same December, Fox News interview that he made the initial demand during that he and his family had flown on Epstein's private jet twice in the 1990s.  

Trump has been accused of misconduct several other times over the years. In 2020 ABC News reported that “[a]t least 18 women have accused Donald Trump of varying inappropriate behavior," including claims of "sexual harassment or sexual assault. All but two came forward with their accusations before or during his first bid for the White House.”

The former president was found liable for sexually abusing journalist E. Jean Carroll early last year. 

The alleged emails were part of a settled defamation civil suit brought by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre in 2015 against Maxwell. A federal appeals court judge ordered the documents to be unsealed after the Miami Herald pursued their release. 

Epstein died in a jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in U.S. District Court. His death was later ruled a suicide. Maxwell was convicted on five counts pertaining to sex trafficking and sentenced to years in prison. 

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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