Attorney General William Barr said Saturday that he is “appalled” by the death of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein – and said that he has spoken to the Department of Justice’s inspector general about opening a probe into the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide.
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”
Epstein, who is accused of sex trafficking minors, was found unresponsive inside his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City around 6:30 a.m. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. He was transported to New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital and was dead on arrival, officials said.
The New York City medical examiner’s office told Fox News that an autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death. But the death comes two weeks after the 66-year-old was placed on suicide watch after being found injured in his cell. Epstein was in his own cell at the time of his death and was no longer on suicide watch, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier, multiple outlets reported that Barr was “livid” at learning of Epstein’s death. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman described Epstein’s death as “disturbing.”
“To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing,” he said in a statement.
Epstein’s death sparked calls for answers from across the political spectrum. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted that “we need answers, and lots of them.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in Iowa that the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death should be “reviewed.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tweeted he agreed with AOC.
“Chairman @RepJerryNadler should prioritize a Judiciary investigation into how Jeffrey Epstein died in federal custody (in Nadler’s own neighborhood!) over the Kavanaugh confirmation (which already happened), and the Russia hoax (which never happened),” Gaetz said.
Nadler tweeted that he was “deeply disturbed” at Epstein’s death and was “pleased” the Justice Department and FBI would be looking into the matter.
“There are many questions that need to be answered in this case,” the House Judiciary Committee chair added.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said that it was “inexcusable” that Epstein was not under constant suicide watch: “These victims deserved to face their serial abuser in court,” he said.
In a separate letter to Barr, Sasse demanded a Justice Department investigation of Epstein’s death.
“The Department of Justice failed, and today Jeffrey Epstein’s co-conspirators think they might have just gotten one last sweetheart deal,” Sasse wrote. “Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him. Given Epstein’s previous attempted suicide, he should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance. Obviously, heads must roll.”
Sasse demanded the DOJ answer if Epstein was placed on suicide watch following a previous suicide attempt and if investigations are being ordered into the Bureau of Prisons alleged mismanagement of his incarceration and whether any criminal activity surrounded his imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said that the Federal Bureau of Prisons “must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims.”
Epstein was arrested on July 6 over the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of young girls in his Upper East Side townhouse and his waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005
Epstein allegedly created and maintained a “vast network” and operation from 2002 “up to and including” at least 2005 that enabled him to “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” in addition to paying victims to recruit other girls. Prosecutors said that victims would be escorted to a room with a massage table where they would perform massages on Epstein.
At the time of Epstein’s arrest, prosecutors said they found a trove of pictures of nude and semi-nude young women and girls at his $77 million Manhattan mansion. They also say additional victims have come forward since the arrest.
He had pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
His death also comes a day after thousands of documents were unsealed Friday in connection with a defamation cause against his alleged recruiter that revealed dozens of high-profile names including former Maine Sen. George Mitchell and ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Both men called the allegations false.
Meanwhile, included in the hundreds of pages of documents were pages of flight logs from Epstein’s private jet. Prominent individuals who had traveled on the jet, according to those records, included Bill Gates, who flew once, former President Bill Clinton and aide Doug Band, who flew four times, President Trump, who flew once in 1997 from Palm Beach to New York, Colombian President Andres Pastrana, Dershowitz, Hyatt Hotels Chairman Tom Pritzker, Brunel, and model and talent agent Naomi Campbell, among others.
Fox News’ Bryan Llenas, Lissa Kaplan, Jason Donner, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.