Ever since Jeffrey Epstein was charged with two counts of sex trafficking earlier this month, President Donald Trump has tried to distance himself from the billionaire financier with whom he apparently shared a friendly relationship for decades.
"I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. ... I was not a fan," Trump told reporters last week, adding that he and Epstein had had a falling out. But in a newly unearthed video by NBC News, the president and Epstein appear very chummy together at a party in 1992.
The footage is part of a profile of Trump for the talk show A Closer Look. In the beginning of the video, which takes place at Trump's Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, FL, Trump is seen dancing and flirting with a group of professional cheerleaders. Then, he greets Epstein and two other guests as they walk into the party. He then stands around with Epstein, ogling the group of young women on the dance floor. At one point, he gestures at the women and appears to tell Epstein: "Look at her, back there. She’s hot." He then whispers something into Epstein's ear, leading the financier to double over with laughter.
Trump has tried to downplay their relationship as more allegations against Epstein come out, but he used to speak highly of the financier. "I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by at least 21 women, told New York magazine in 2002. "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."
The two men are also connected via a lawsuit brought forward by an anonymous woman who alleges that both Trump and Epstein violently raped her when she was 13. The woman sued both men in 2016, first under the pseudonym "Katie Johnson" in California and then as "Jane Doe" in New York. She claimed that they allegedly argued over who should take her virginity. But her claims have never been independently corroborated, nor has her mysterious identity ever been confirmed. The California lawsuit was dismissed over technical errors. The New York lawsuit was withdrawn days before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has denied the claims. “The allegations are not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated,” he said.