The 17th-Century English theologian Thomas Fuller said it is always darkest before the dawn, which I suppose he intended as encouragement, but in the Trump Era I take it as more of a warning.  When we look back after this is all over, we’ll probably be more apt to quote The Stranger in The Big Lebowski: “Darkness warshed over the Dude – darker’n a black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom.”

The latest indication is this whole smut business with Jeffrey Epstein involving human trafficking of underage girls and some of the most rich, powerful and famous men on the planet.

Jeffrey Epstein spent a second night in a New York jail cell Sunday, with a federal indictment expected to be unsealed Monday, charging him with sex offenses involving underage girls he and others allegedly trafficked in New York and Florida, sources have told the Miami Herald.

Right at the heart of this case already is the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, who handled Epstein’s case in the aughts while serving as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.  Mr. Acosta arranged a sweetheart deal for Epstein the involved him copping a plea to two prostitution charges and registering as a sex offender but doing very little jail time.  The arrangement has since been rule illegal since it was done in a way that impermissibly kept the victims in the dark.

In a normal world, Acosta would have resigned in disgrace months ago, but we live in depraved facsimile of normal.

The Miami Herald has done much of the most important investigative work on this story and they’re warning us that some very well-known personages may soon be exposed as fellow-travelers in Epstein’s debauchery and perversions. It’s not clear who socialized with Epstein because he was offering underage entertainment and who was doing it simply because he is a rich man known for his generous philanthropy.

Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.

Among those potentially on the list: Ghislaine Maxwell, a 57-year-old British socialite and publishing heir who has been accused of working as Epstein’s madam; and Jean-Luc Brunel, who, according to court records, was partners with Epstein in an international modeling company…

…Lawyers for Epstein’s victims, in court filings, have often likened Epstein’s sex operation to an organized crime family, with Epstein and Maxwell at the top, and below them, others who worked as schedulers, recruiters, pilots and bookkeepers.

For her part, Maxwell, whose social circle included such friends as Bill and Hillary Clinton and members of the British Royal family, has been described as using recruiters positioned throughout the world to lure women by promising them modeling assignments, educational opportunities and fashion careers. The pitch was really a ruse to groom them into sex trafficking, it is alleged in court records.

Back in 2002, Donald Trump agreed to speak about Epstein for a feature article reporter Landon Thomas Jr. was doing for New York magazine:

“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump booms from a speakerphone. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

It’s not clear if Trump understood quite how much on the younger side Epstein liked his beautiful women, but I bet he regrets making that remark now. It makes him look complicit in a human trafficking underage sex ring even if he knew nothing about it.  I suspect his 2016 opponents, Hillary and Bill Clinton, are wishing they never socialized with Ghislaine Maxwell and Bill wishes he never fly on Epstein’s private jet. This is indeed “a dark prairie night,” and no one yet knows who all will wind being tarnished or even arrested.

A lot will depend on what federal agents found in his Manhattan home. They seem to have had reason to focus on that residence above all others:

Federal agents also executed search warrants for Epstein’s Manhattan home early Saturday evening, breaking down the door of his Upper East Side townhouse, according to witnesses. Federal agents do not appear to have raided Epstein’s other three homes, however, and it’s not clear why.

In 2015, the now-defunct Gawker got its hands on Epstein’s Little Black Book which contained the contact information for a Who’s Who of politicians and celebrities. While the vast majority of those people are undoubtedly wholly innocent, the book almost certainly contains the identities of many of the people who utilized his services.

There are a lot of folks who should get right with Jesus and make a proactive call to the prosecutors before they wind up on the other side of that call.  In fact, it looks like this has already happened to a significant degree.

In the era of Trump, nothing ever gets better. Things always get worse. And there is no bottom.

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