Attorney General William Barr said in an interview on Friday that he is personally skeptical of the circumstances surrounding the death of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein but that he came to conclude that the suicide was “a perfect storm of screw-ups” after he examined security footage from the night of incident.
“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Barr told The Associated Press.
The AP noted that Barr “personally reviewed security footage that confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.”
“I think it was important to have a roommate in there with him and we’re looking into why that wasn’t done, and I think every indication is that was a screw-up,” Barr continued. “The systems to assure that was done were not followed.
Barr also mentioned that federal prosecutors in New York were making solid progress in investigating who else may have assisted Epstein in the crimes that he was accused of committing.
“They are definitely pushing things along,” Barr said. “I’ll just say there is good progress being made, and I’m hopeful in a relatively short time there will be tangible results.”
Barr’s comments come after Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the FBI is investigating whether a “criminal enterprise” played any role in Epstein’s death.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, asked Sawyer: “With a case this high profile, there has got to be either a major malfunction of the system or criminal enterprise at foot to allow this to happen. So are you looking at both, is the FBI looking at both?”
Sawyer responded: “The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise, yes.”
Sawyer also cast doubt on any conspiracy theories suggesting that Epstein was murdered when she was asked by Graham, “Do you concur with the opinion that it was a suicide?”
“That was the finding of the coroner,” Sawyer responded.
“Do you have any evidence to suggest otherwise?” Graham pressed.
“I do not,” Sawyer replied.
.@LindseyGrahamSC on Jeffrey Epstein: “Do you concur with the opinion that it was a suicide?”
Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer: “That was the finding of the coroner.”
Graham: “Do you have any evidence to suggest otherwise?”
Sawyer: “I do not.” pic.twitter.com/2aBK0YWXuP
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 19, 2019
Epstein was arrested on July 6 on federal charges that accused him of operating a child sex trafficking enterprise from 2002 to 2005. On July 23, authorities found Epstein on the floor of his jail cell with injury marks on his neck believed to have been the result of a possible suicide attempt. Epstein was subsequently placed on suicide watch for a short period of time before being returned to his jail cell. Epstein was found dead in his cell on August 10 after the guards who were charged with monitoring him allegedly did not check on him for hours.
“Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple,” The Washington Post reported in reference to Epstein’s autopsy. “Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.”
“The hyoid bone in the neck being fractured and other fractures in the neck, make it more likely, and again, this is a percentage call, more likely that it was a homicide than a suicide,” Dr. Marc Siegel, a Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, told Fox News. “It can either be a suicide or a homicide still … I am now more suspicious than ever that this could be a homicide. That answer is going to come to us because if someone attacked, you see signs of the attack on the body … It hasn’t been released yet. I’m waiting to see that.”
“If someone holds you down and strangles you, you see evidence on the body — bruises,” Siegel added. “The other question that has come up … is about the suicide watch situation which is shocking to me as a physician who has dealt with severely depressed and suicidal patients.”
“Six days on a suicide watch, prison officials reportedly removed it. Prison officials, guided by who? What self-respecting psychiatrist would say, ‘okay, he’s no longer suicidal,’” Siegel concluded. “There was evidence on July 23rd that he may have done something to his neck, or someone did … suddenly six days later he waves his hand, says he’s fine, and he’s put in an area where ultimately he’s unobserved — because as you know, people fall asleep and they falsify records reportedly.”