President Trump, who has admitted meeting Ms Maxwell, 58, in Palm Beach, Florida – where some of her alleged crimes took place – attempted to bat away questions on why he voiced support for the British socialite in a press conference last month.
In a heated exchange with Axios’s Jonathan Swan on Monday night, Mr Trump replied “I don’t know that” when asked by the broadcaster about Ms Maxwell’s charges, and why he voiced support for his former acquaintance.
Mr Trump then immediately sought to deflect the questions by switching the conversation back to Epstein, who died in a New York prison cell in August 2019, aged 66. The disgraced financier and convicted sex offender was facing further charges in relation to trafficking and abuse of minors.
“Her friend or boyfriend, was either killed or committed suicide inside jail,” said Mr Trump. “She’s [Ms Maxwell] now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well,” he added.
Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Trump had previously wished Ms Maxwell well on 21 July, after prosecutors announced that she had been detained.
In August last year, the New York medical examiners office ruled Epstein’s death a suicide. A forensic pathologist later hired by Epstein’s brother disputed the decision. Dr. Michael Baden presented findings which he claimed showed that Epstein may have been strangled.
President Trump’s relationship with Epstein has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. The two men mixed in the same social circles for years, with Mr Trump once describing Epstein as a “terrific guy”.
Epstein’s waterfront mansion in Palm Beach is located just 1.8 miles away from Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. The pair reportedly cut ties in 2004 after falling out over a property purchase.
Some of Epstein’s victims have mentioned the president and Mar-a-Lago in their accounts of events surrounding their alleged abuse.
The president is also mentioned in a civil suit filed by an unnamed woman who is suing Epstein’s estate. The alleged Epstein victim claims her abuser took her to Mar-a-Lago when she was just 14 and showed her to Trump.
She claims Epstein elbowed Trump “playfully’” and said: “This is a good one, right?” There is no suggestion Mr Trump knew she was underage or was involved in any abuse.
Last week, unsealed court documents revealed further details of Epstein and Ms Maxwell’s alleged crimes. The court papers related to a now-settled 2015 civil litigation brought against Ms Maxwell by Virginia Guiffre, 36.
Ms Giuffre, who previously worked for Mr Trump as a changing room assistant at Mar-a-Lago in the early 2000s, has accused both Epstein and Ms Maxwell of abusing her.
In the papers, Ms Guiffre also alleges that Epstein tried to gather incriminating material against Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, by forcing an underage girl to have sex with him.
A court document claims Epstein instructed the girl, referred to as Jane Doe #3, but known to be Virginia Roberts Giuffre, to “give the prince whatever he demanded and report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse”.
Prince Andrew denies the allegations. Ms Guiffre has previously claimed that she was forced to sleep with a host of powerful men.
When asked at the 21 July press conference if he thought Ms Maxwell would turn in the names of powerful people in an attempt to get a better plea deal, Mr Trump said he “hadn’t been following it too much” but that he wished Maxwell well.
“I just wish her well frankly,” he said. Ms Maxwell has been denied bail and her trial has been scheduled for July 2021.