Day Eight: "Ghislaine is the Best At What I Need"
Dispatches from the Maxwell Trial
“I advise every one of my clients that they should have their own planes. … Everyone should.”—Jeffrey Epstein to Vicky Ward, Fall 2002
Ever since Jeffrey Epstein’s death, portions of his flight logs have serially leaked out, showing a host of VIPS whom Epstein flew. We know they include, to mention a few: Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, musician Itzhak Perlman, Prince Andrew, Chris Tucker, and Kevin Spacey).
And they also include, of course, females. Many, many females.
Then Epstein’s flight logs appeared on-screen in court in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. We knew it was coming. We had all been waiting for this. And the testimony of Epstein’s long-time “chief pilot” David Rodgers yesterday gave us even more information than we’d had before.
The numbers were a point of discussion. Assistant U.S. attorney Maureen Comey emphasized to jurors just how many times Rodgers recalled Ghislaine Maxwell flying with Epstein on private planes over the years (a very great deal), how many times Virginia Roberts had (32 times), and how many times “Jane”—the pseudonym for Accuser Number One, who said she was 14 when she first got on Epstein’s plane with both him and Maxwell—had (according to the logs, four times between 1996 and 2002). Interestingly: Epstein hired another “Jane” on his staff in 2003, and the defense made the most of that possible confusion, despite the fact that Rodgers said he would not have confused the two “Janes” because he met them in completely different time periods.
By the end of the afternoon, my head was spinning from the phrase “I’d like to direct your attention to flight number X” because there were so many of them. Day after day. Epstein flew his planes (yes, plural—he had both a Boeing and a Gulfstream) at least once every four days, according to Rodgers. The list of flights that was read out was so long, it was mind-numbing.
According to longtime “chief pilot” David Rodgers, Epstein flew his planes (yes, plural—he had both a Boeing and a Gulfstream) at least once every four days. || Getty
“Do you think any of the jurors are environmentalists?” quipped my neighbor, referring to the extraordinary carbon footprint Epstein must have created with his extraordinary amount of travel.
It was an excellent point.
Even many of the private-plane class roll their eyes at people who fly privately unnecessarily. “So-and-so would take their plane to the bathroom” is the common (derogatory) phrase for someone who just throws money away because they can. Not a good indicator, even among the elite, of common sense—or of fiscal responsibility.
As I listened, I remained bewildered by the question I was first tasked with in 2002 when I investigated Epstein and still have not answered: How did he make the money for the planes, the homes, all of it?
I was reminded of some of the conversations Epstein and I had had in 2002 about flying private. After court, I checked the transcripts of our conversations, and I remembered that he told me he’d had his own plane since the 1980s. That was not something that was borne out in the testimony of his two captains these past ten days. (Rodgers was asked specifically what aircrafts Epstein owned between 1991 and 2004.) Epstein also told me that he wanted to meet me on his Boeing 727 and show me his “trading room.” In fact, he thought that his 727 “trading room” would make for excellent photographs for Vanity Fair magazine, where I worked at the time and for whom I was profiling Epstein those nearly twenty years ago. “I thought in terms of location for you, and sort of your readership, my sense is either 71st Street drawing room, or the 727 trading room,” he had said.
I’ve noticed that neither of his pilots, in detailed descriptions of his planes, have mentioned that he had a “trading room” on his Boeing 727.
I was also reminded of something Epstein once said to me: Flying private is not a luxury, he had said, it’s an essential he told all his “clients” they should have.
Here’s the transcript of our conversation:
JE: I advise every one of my clients that they should have their own planes.
VW: Why? …Why? How can that financially work for them?
JE: (Inaudible/Breaks Up) it's almost like having ... it's like renting your car.
VW: It's what?
JE: It's like owning a car.
VW: Or renting a car?
JE: Or renting a car, yes….Everyone should ... the concept for airplanes is because it gives you an extra 100 days a year. A private plane allows you to sort of leave a city at midnight, arrive in another (Overlap)
VW: Oh, I see.
JE: ... at six a.m. That gives(?) two days of business which would have only been one before.
But what, actually, was his “business”? What did he need to save two days for?
In court yesterday, we heard of endless flights from Epstein’s homes…to his many other homes —or vacation places. Listening to it, I still couldn’t work it out. If he was visiting “clients,” there were only two destinations that stood out: Columbus, Ohio and Aspen, Colorado— both places where David Rodgers testified the billionaire retailer Les Wexner had homes.
Back in 2002, Epstein told me he was calling me from his plane and he was in Tokyo, that he was “jet-lagged.” I was curious as to how his private travel experience had been.
Here’s the transcript:
VW: And you typically on your own ... or do you take a team with you?
JE: No, the team I take is strictly for my personal staff.
VW: Oh, right.
JE: The idea also is ... I'm in search of ... in addition each one of these places ... I can only judge a place by its financial people. And the best and brightest ... that's very important ... that's how I think about things. So I'm supposed to be seeing sort of in the morning six students ... that are supposed to be exceptional in the sciences.
VW: And who introduced you to them ... someone at the Trilateral Commission?
JE: No, this is ... you know, I'm on the board of the international education commission ... a group that runs Fulbright Scholarships ... the IIE it's called. So they help. But I've also been ... I always ask people wherever I go ... because I want to go see the universities here in Tokyo. I want the best students that I can essentially fund.
VW: And are you there at the moment on your own business ... I mean, are you looking for yourself to look at the current ...
JE: No, I'm looking ... it's just why you go to school ... I don't know where it leads yet. Except for the science and its kids.
VW: And then what kind of personal staff would you take with you?
JE: Yoga person ... massage people ... and two secretaries ... whatever you call them now ... personal assistants.
VW: And where would you stay ... you stay in hotels or do you rent houses?
JE: Usually I try not to. I try to stay at people's houses.
VW: And do you have ...
JE: (Overlap) (Inaudible) private meetings unfortunately at the hotels.
VW: You can't?
VW: And then what about ... do you have ... I mean, do you take a chef or anyone like that or ...
JE: (Laughs) You haven't gotten that story yet.
VW: What story? (Laughter)
JE: I take my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
VW: I don't believe that ... you eat peanut butter and jelly? No ... you take your chef with you.
JE: I eat peanut butter and jelly.
VW: No you don't. (Laughter)
JE: When ... if you ask ... if you talk to the president you can ask him.
VW: Talk to the president?
JE: Yeah. Clinton.
JE: He was shocked ... why are we serving peanut butter and jelly ...
VW: Oh, no the plane.
JE: Mm-hm. I try to have the same food with me.
VW: And so what kind of thing is that?
JE: Eli's Zabars' bread.
JE: If you've done your clippings homework you know I have my bread wherever I go.
VW: That I did know ... but I don't know what kind of bread it is.
JE: It's Eli's Zabars' seven grain bread.
VW: Okay ... Eli's Zabars' seven grain bread. So that comes with you wherever you go.
VW: But what else do you ...
JE: And sometimes I bring my chef.
VW: And sometimes you bring your chef ...
JE: Because there's a kitchen on the plane where they can bake.
Yesterday’s testimony confirmed three things that Epstein said: An interest in young students (Jane attended Interlochen Arts Camp), that he traveled with a masseuse or yoga instructors and sometimes a chef, and the fact that there was a galley on the plane.
As for the rest of it, who knows?
Here’s the rest of what I asked him about his trips that relates to this trial:
VW: Okay. And Ghislaine does not come with you on these trips?
VW: So can you just explain something to me ...
JE: I'll try ...
VW: ... everyone says to well, you know, as you said ... she's your best friend. And a lot of people have used the term partners in many ... you know, in sort of everything. And I asked you if she worked for you ... and you said no.
VW: But would it be more ... I mean, does she always work with you?
JE: No, she's not really involved in the business. You know, I was trying to figure out how to best describe it. As I said, what I've tried to do like here in Tokyo is search for the best and brightest.
JE: And that's how Ghislaine fits in. Ghislaine is the best at what I need ... Ghislaine speaks five languages fluently. So in Europe ... you know, she'll come to a meeting. And not only will she be able to translate what the person's saying ... but she can also give me a sense of is the person telling the truth. I enjoy ... I need especially female input on that.
VW: Now I understand.
Of course I didn’t understand. And I still don’t. We are entering Day Nine of this trial. And we still don’t know who Jeffrey Epstein really was, besides a very sick, perverted man. And still, according to testimony, his relationship with Maxwell is seemingly schizophrenic in that it appeared twisted and harmful to the accusers who have testified and mostly professional according to his pilots.
Let’s see what today brings.