Donald Trump invoked his own 2020 election loss when asked whether he believes Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide - making the suggestion that his attorney general Bill Barr failed to investigate both.
The ex-president made the link as he skipped the first Republican primary debate – a stage typically relished by the GOP’s presidential candidates – and instead chose to appear in an online interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday.
In the interview that was peppered with election lies and attacks on his rivals, Carlson tried to engage the former president in conspiracy theories about disgraced financier Epstein, before bringing up Mr Barr in an abrupt manner.
“Do you think Epstein killed himself? Sincerely?” Carlson asked.
“I don’t know. I will say that, you know, he was a fixture in Palm Beach,” the former president replied.
“I don’t know what Barr said about it either. I have no idea what he said. What did he say? He killed himself. Probably,” Mr Trump said, agreeing with the suggestion that Epstein died by suicide.
Casting aspersions on the findings, Carlson said the former attorney general knows the truth about Epstein’s death.
Epstein died on 10 August 2019 inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was confined ahead of a pending trial for allegedly recruiting dozens of teen girls to engage in sexual acts with him and his friends.
He was facing up to 45 years in prison if he would have been convicted.
Mr Barr, in his book One Damn Thing After Another, had pushed back on the claims that Epstein’s death was nefarious. He said the financier’s death created “a perfect storm of failures” that preceded his death and that the “fact that so many failures occurred at one time understandably led people to suspect the worst”.
“He (Barr) said he killed himself and that they were going to this investigation. They never did. The investigation has never been public and they hid it. And like, why are they doing that? He didn’t really, Barr knew. But why would Bill Barr be covering up the death of Jeffrey Epstein?” Carlson said.
checking in on the Trump-Tucker interview ... pic.twitter.com/h00FalUunj
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 24, 2023
Mr Trump replied by attacking his former attorney general for disagreeing with his debunked theories of election fraud in 2020, saying Barr was “petrified” of being impeached.
“Bill Barr didn’t do an investigation on the election fraud either,” Mr Trump said.
“Okay. He said he did, and he pretended he did, but he didn’t. (Bill) McSwain, the US attorney in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said Barr just wouldn’t let him do. It was crazy. Barr became so petrified, so frightened of being impeached. You’re going to impeach him. I don’t know if you remember it. Yeah, it’s not a big moment in history, but they said we’re going to impeach here,” he continued.
Tucker Carlson to Trump: "I'm not a conspiracy person at all" pic.twitter.com/RmfpvawK82
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 24, 2023
“They play a much rougher game with the left, the lunatics. And they were going to impeach Bill Barr and he was petrified. Now how do you not get impeached? Don’t do any of this stuff. But he didn’t do the job there. I don’t know what he did with Epstein, but possibly.”
“Do you think it’s possible that Epstein was killed?” Carlson asked again, a suggestion to which the former president personally disagreed.
“Oh, sure, it’s possible. I mean, I don’t really believe it. I think he probably committed suicide. He had a life with, you know, beautiful homes and beautiful everything. And he all of a sudden is incarcerated and not doing very well. I would say that he did. But there are those people. There are many people. I think you’re one of them. Right. But a lot of people think that he was killed. He knew a lot of and a lot of people,” Trump replied.
“He was killed. I think,” Carlson said, without citing any evidence for his claim.
“I think the closer you look, I’m not a conspiracy person at all. I believe everything I hear. But yeah, the closer you look into it, I mean, the attorney general, the United States, your attorney general clearly lied about the Epstein death.”