Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) urged the director of the Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday to be honest with the American people about what happened in the death of financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“How can I put this? Christmas ornaments, drywall, and Jeffrey Epstein — name three things that don’t hang themselves,” Kennedy told Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “That’s what the American people think. That’s what the American people think!”
“They deserve some answers,” he continued. “And I know that you are not in charge of these investigations, but you talk to the people who are and I need you to take a very respectful message today. Tell the American people what happened.”
.@Senjohnkennedy: “Christmas ornaments, drywall and Jeffrey Epstein – name three things that don’t hang themselves. That’s what the American people think…and they deserve some answers."
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 19, 2019
Epstein was notably found hanging in his New York City prison cell in August after he was arrested on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors. Only hours later, the Bureau of Prisons called the death an apparent suicide, although no final determination had been made.
Many of the suspicious circumstances leading up to Epstein’s death have led the American people to question whether the Bureau of Prisons and Justice Department have been covering up a possible murder of the infamous sex offender.
For example, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death despite a possible suicide attempt only weeks prior, and two separate cameras malfunctioned in front of Epstein’s cell while the alleged hanging occurred. The two prisons guards who were assigned to monitor his cell every thirty minutes also “failed to follow procedure” and consequently left Epstein alone for extended periods of time.
A forensic pathologist, Michael Baden, was also hired by Epstein’s brother to review the autopsy results. Baden contended that the characteristics of his death are consistent with homicide and not suicide, as previously determined. He stated that Epstein’s broken hyoid bone was significantly more consistent with strangulation and is a rare occurrence in hanging deaths.
Regardless, chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson stood “firmly” by the initial cause and manner of death.
Epstein’s death, however, prompted a leadership shakeup within the Bureau of Prisons. Sawyer was appointed to take over the bureau by Attorney General William Barr in the wake of the alleged suicide. He also ordered multiple investigations focusing on prison operations at the facility where Epstein was being held. There is still an ongoing federal investigation into the circumstances leading up to his death.
“Don’t rush it so that they don’t do a thorough investigation, but you and I both know that they can make this a top priority and get it done more quickly than they normally would,” Kennedy said. “They need to do that and I would like you to deliver that message.”
“I agree, sir,” Sawyer responded. “I can pass along the message but the FBI and the inspector general’s office work on their own timeframe. But I will definitely give them that message because I want the investigations completed as soon as possible, too.”