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You don’t worry about the things that you used to be

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Michelle Goldberg gathers a lot of related threads on the Epstein case. She starts with Graydon Carter running interference for him, as we’ve already discussed, and proceeds from there:

Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she’s started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. “What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it,” she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, “all mentioned the girls, as an aside.”

Epstein — who was able to talk a lot of rich people into giving money to his Potemkin trading operation — is a very gifted con artist, and his decision to lavish money on Harvard (an institution he never attended) was shrewd. Nothing gives you respectability despite ample evidence suggesting you don’t deserve it like giving boatloads of cash to the nation’s premier elite finishing school. The fact that giving money to Harvard is one of the worst possible ways a rich philanthropist can give away their money makes it only more appropriate.

Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable, like a season of “True Detective” penned by a doctrinaire Marxist.

[…]

Among the mysteries of the Epstein case are why powerful prosecutors of both parties treated him with such leniency. Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary, was the federal attorney who oversaw the deal Epstein received in 2008. Though facing potential federal charges that could have put him away for life, Epstein was allowed to plead to minor state charges instead, an arrangement that was kept secret from his victims. He served 13 months in a county jail, where he got to spend six days a week in his office on work-release. In February, a judge ruled that Acosta’s team’s handling of the case violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. (Naturally, Acosta still has his job.)

After Epstein served his time, he had to register as a sex offender. Inexplicably, the Manhattan district attorney’s office, under Democrat Cyrus Vance Jr., asked a judge to downgrade Epstein’s sex offender status from Level 3, the most serious, to Level 1, the least. The judge, stunned, refused. “I am a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this,” she said.

New York has a lot of dubious Dem officeholders, but Cy Vance has been particularly aggressive about doing whatever the opposite of covering yourself in glory is. As Goldberg says, this helps to explain why Epstein was not only perverted but complacent enough to keep truckloads of incriminating evidence in his Manhattan residence — he thought he had a deal with the feds and Christ knows Vance’s office wasn’t going to do anything about it.

And, amazingly, there are still Dem senators — not all of them even from red states, not that there’s any reason to think that vouching for Acosta in either 2017 or now has ever gotten anybody a single vote — still defending Alex Acosta:

Get out of my life, don’t come back.

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