Congresswoman Jackie Speier

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Congress Calls on AG to Expand Epstein IG Probe

August 30, 2019
Letters
Congresswoman Jackie Speier Joins Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Jamie Raskin in letter to AG Barr.

The Honorable William Barr

U.S. Attorney General

 

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.

Washington, DC 20530

 

 

Dear Attorney General Barr:

It has been announced that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) will investigate the questionable circumstances surrounding the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein.[1]  While that certainly merits OIG attention, limiting the scope of an independent inquiry solely into his death is grossly inadequate, and would ignore the various DOJ officials who have allowed this serial pedophile to elude true justice for more than a decade.[2]

We respectfully request that the Department permit the OIG to conduct a broad, independent investigation of this entire case.  It should be one that not only covers his death, but also investigates the conduct of any officials who approved, reviewed, and defended Mr. Epstein’s egregious and unprecedented plea deal.  That agreement was not only intolerably lenient, but it was recently deemed illegal by a federal judge.[3]  

Members of Congress made a similar request for an independent investigation of this potentially illegal plea deal last year (see attached item 1, dated Nov. 30, 2018).  Regrettably, we were denied.  The subsequent response from Inspector General Michael Horowitz (see attached item 2, dated Jan. 29, 2019) stated that his Office lacked the authority to conduct such an investigation, and that Congress in Sec 8E(b)(3) of the Inspector General Act had delegated exclusive jurisdiction into such matters to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  The Inspector General has requested authority from the Department on several other occasions to investigate issues related to attorney misconduct and every time that authority has been denied.

While we understand his concerns regarding the limitations on the statutory independence of the OIG, there are no legitimate legal barriers to an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding this plea deal.  More importantly, these concerns should not be used to starve Mr. Epstein’s victims of the justice they so desperately still seek

As has been well publicized, most notably in the Miami Herald’s “Perversion of Justice” newspaper reporting, the plea agreement that the DOJ gave Mr. Epstein is now shrouded in corrosive allegations of official misconduct, corruption and illegality. Therefore, the Justice Department owes these victims and the public its absolute highest level of transparency and self-examination.  A limited OPR inquiry into this matter, which we understand was opened in February of this year, will not satisfy that demand. An OIG investigation which can fully examine all issues surrounding the Epstein case is needed.

As Members of Congress intent on ensuring the equal application of justice, especially as it relates to the plague of sex trafficking and sexual abuse, we urge you to allow the Inspector General to conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation into the non-prosecution agreement that the Department of Justice provided Mr. Epstein, as well as the circumstances surrounding his death.  Mr. Epstein is alleged to have manipulated every level of our legal system, through his wealth and political connections.  If justice was indeed for sale, or the process that led to the non-prosecution agreement violated ethical and legal standards within the Department of Justice, the Inspector General must conduct a thorough investigation that extends far beyond the jail cell where he died.   Mr. Epstein’s victims have been denied justice at every turn so far. They must be granted this dignity, while some measure of true accountability is still within reach.

 
 

[1] Department of Justice, “Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on the Death of Jeffrey Epstein,” August 10, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/statement-attorney-general-william-p-barr-death-jeffrey-epstein.

[2] The Washington Post, “‘He was inappropriate with me’: Epstein face to face with accusers at bail hearing,” Renae Merle and Matt Zapotosky, July 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/he-was-inappropriate-with-me-epstein-comes-face-to-face-with-accusers-at-bail-hearing/2019/07/15/0e067664-a706-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html.

[3] Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 v. United States, 359 F.Supp.3d 1201 (S.D. Fla. 2019).