The Morning Jolt


Controversy Swirls around Jeffrey Epstein’s Death

Jeffrey Epstein in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service, March 28, 2017. (Handout/Reuters)

Jim Geraghty is off this week. Making the click-through worthwhile: Jeffrey Epstein is found dead in his cell as conspiracy theories abound, the Department of Education investigates policies allowing biological males to have a field day in women’s sports, and former Trump administration communications director Anthony Scaramucci says the president might have to be replaced atop the 2020 GOP ticket.

Jeffrey Epstein Dead in Apparent Suicide

Ostensible finance mogul and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was declared dead on Saturday after he was found unconscious in his cell. His remains were transferred to the medical examiner’s office for further investigation, but prison officials say he committed suicide. Which has some asking how Epstein — who had attempted suicide in late July and was the most high-profile inmate in the country — managed to commit suicide at a notorious federal lockup like the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The MCC in Manhattan is no joke — the Los Angeles Times calls it the “Guantanamo of New York” — and it is a universe apart from the Palm Beach County Stockade, where Epstein served time for soliciting a minor in 2008. But the Washington Post has detailed the timeline surrounding Epstein’s death, which suggests not a conspiracy but rather incompetence:

It was also not clear how much, if any, of the incident or authorities’ check-ins was captured on camera. E.O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33, said that while cameras are prevalent in the facility, he did not believe they generally captured inmates’ cells.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons said Saturday that lifesaving measures were “initiated immediately” after Epstein was found, and then emergency responders were summoned.

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after a July 23 incident in which he was found in his cell with marks on his neck — which subjected him to near constant monitoring and daily psychological evaluations, according to people familiar with the case. But he was taken off that about a week later and brought to the special housing unit, where there was a higher level of security, but not constant monitoring.

Before the incident, Epstein had a cellmate: Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer in custody on murder and narcotics charges. But Young, the national union president, said Epstein was in a cell alone immediately before his death.

Young said he was not certain why Epstein was in the cell alone, as the Federal Bureau of Prisons has moved recently to make sure fewer inmates are housed on their own. He said there was some speculation after the July 23 incident that Epstein was trying to get away from Tartaglione, whom he feared, and he believed that, at least for a time, Epstein had another cellmate after coming off suicide watch.

Young asserted that in the jail’s general population, Epstein also probably would have been a target and that there was only so much officers could do to prevent him from harming himself.

But Young said, even in Epstein’s case, correctional officers face a grim reality.

“We can’t ever stop anyone who is persistent on killing themselves,” Young said. “The only thing the bureau can do is delay that.”

The Internet is ablaze with conspiracy theories, given the potential dirt that Epstein held on power players in the worlds of politics and finance. Alas, the president joined in, retweeting actor Terrence K. Williams’s post which insinuated that the Clintons arranged for Epstein to be killed:

Epstein had been arraigned on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Education Department Investigates Biological Males Playing Girls’ Sports

“Biological males” — what other kind is there? — are having a field day competing against women in athletics across the country.

It is 2019, rendering us incapable of acknowledging that men are, on the aggregate, stronger, faster, and more coordinated than women. But whether or not the cultural hegemony allows it to be so stated, the plain biological reality remains — much to the dismay of women and girls involved in sports who are coming face to face with the vocal vanguard of America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.

Now the Department of Education is investigating this phenomenon. From my colleague Maddy Kearns:

On Wednesday, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into the claims of three female athletes who maintain that the state of Connecticut’s transgender policy — allowing male athletes to compete with girls if they declare a female gender identity — violates Title IX and constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex.

Since enacted in 2017, the Connecticut state conference policy has enabled two young men to win 15 women’s championships, titles that were held by 10 young women the year before. State athletic conferences in 18 other states have similar policies.

Last month, I visited the named complainant, 16-year-old Selina Soule, and her mom at their home in Glastonbury. Soule showed me the track where she trains as well as her collection of medals and trophies. She said that sports mean the world to her — and to her mom, an immigrant from Romania, and her inspiration. As I detailed in the Wall Street Journal, Soule feels that allowing boys to compete against girls is “just really frustrating and heartbreaking” as the girls “all train extremely hard to shave off just fractions of a second off of our time. And these athletes can do half the amount of work that we do, and it doesn’t matter. We have no chance of winning.”

No chance indeed.

‘The Mooch’ Thinks Trump Might Need to Be Replaced in 2020

Anthony Scaramucci was the communications director for the Trump White House for 11 days, in case you’ve somehow forgotten. To oblige: “The Mooch” told Axios that he thinks the president might need to be primaried in 2020, given his sense that “the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the clean-up process.” Mixed metaphor or not, Scaramucci appears to be turning on his former boss, as Axios reports:

Scaramucci, who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, including Trump’s 2016 campaign, said that if Trump “doesn’t reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020.”

“Right now, it’s an unspeakable thing. But if he keeps it up, it will no longer be unspeakable. The minute they start speaking of it, it will circulate and be socialized. We can’t afford a full nuclear contamination site post 2020.”

The big picture: Scaramucci has said that Trump’s attacks on congresswomen of color “divide the country.” And yesterday the president attacked his former communications director in a couple of tweets.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham had this short response to Scaramucci’s comments about opposing Trump in 2020: “It sounds like his feelings are hurt.”

Anthony Scaramucci challenging Donald Trump to lead the GOP ticket would certainly be a memorable Republican primary.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

O’Rourke’s America

With apologies to Margaret Atwood and a thousand other dystopian novelists, we do not have to theorize about what an American police state would look like, because we know what it looks like: the airport, that familiar totalitarian environment where Americans are disarmed, stripped of their privacy, divested of ... Read More
White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More