On Tuesday, the first full day of witness testimony in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial, defense lawyers highlighted Epstein’s circle of high-powered acquantances, naming Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as Prince Andrew and others as passengers aboard Epstein’s private planes for the first time in court. They also sought to depict Epstein’s jet travels as casual jaunts rather than debauched sex-trafficking missions while the prosecution zeroed in on Maxwell’s closeness to the late sex offender.
In the continued questioning of Epstein’s longtime pilot Larry Visoski, Christian Everdell, a lawyer for Maxwell, cited Clinton as an example of a passenger on Epstein’s private planes that Visoski would definitely be notified of in advance, so he could make the plane “look nice” and arrange “special catering.”
He also mentioned Prince Andrew as having flown with Epstein, along with Trump, astronaut John Glenn, violinist Itzhak Perlman, Limited Brand owner Les Wexner, Kevin Spacey, and Chris Tucker. “Plenty of important people” had traveled on the planes, Everdell pointed out. He noted that these people might have a legitimate interest in protecting their privacy before asking Visoski about the non-disclosure agreement he’d signed as Epstein’s pilot. Visoski said the practice was “not at all” unusual and a “fairly normal request” for private jet pilots.
The big-name contacts were revealed in contrast to the many nameless passengers, many of them women, who might have traveled from one place to another on what the defense yesterday referred to as a “Hampton Jitney in the air.” Ghislaine’s lawyers seem intent on depicting travel aboard Epstein’s jets — which photo exhibits entered into court Tuesday showed had increased in size over the years from a Hawker Siddeley with a half dozen rows of windows to a full Boeing 727 jet, the one reportedly nicknamed the “Lolita Express” — as a casual occurrence. Everdell confirmed with Visoski that members of Epstein’s family often traveled with him as “tagalongs.” Epstein would offer someone a lift like you’d offer a ride in a car, “only in the air,” Everdell said. Visoski said he never witnessed any sex acts or evidence of sex acts on the plane, and that while he always kept the cockpit door closed, Epstein invited him to use the lavatory at the rear of one of the planes, which he had to walk through the passenger cabin to reach.
At the same time, Visoski described Maxwell as Epstein’s “Number Two,” saying she handled finances, including his expense reports during his employ. Maxwell sat beside her counsel in a light-colored sweater, leaning over to talk during breaks and watching proceedings from behind a face mask.
Visoski said he recalled meeting Jane on the plane, the 14-year-old whom the prosecution says Epstein and Ghislaine targeted at Interlochen summer arts camp in Michigan. He was never told her age, he said, but he told the prosecution she was “a mature woman,” with “piercing powder-blue eyes.” Everdell later asked if she’d had large breasts, appearing to attempt to draw a connection between physical development and maturity. Visoski did not answer the question but repeated that she’d appeared to him to be “a mature woman.” The defense also questioned whether Jane had actually traveled on the plane after meeting Visoski. He admitted he could picture her standing by the cockpit but couldn’t picture Jane in the passenger cabin the way he could picture a more memorable passenger — like Clinton, he noted.
After Visoski’s testimony, one of Epstein’s accusers, who is not being identified, took the stand. The trial is expected to last approximately six weeks.