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Those Viral Documents About Epstein and Trump Aren’t New

Have you seen documents going viral this week detailing disturbing allegations about Donald Trump and the rape of a child in the 1990s? Many of the people sharing the documents claim that they were recently released by the Florida court that’s hearing a case about what documents could be shared about the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. But the documents currently being passed around on social media sites like X aren’t actually new.

“It’s been 8 days since over 300 pages of never before seen docs with evidence confirming Trump as a co-conspirator w Epstein in an underage sex trafficking scheme, inc very graphic sexual details. Yet no major media outlet has covered it since it went public,” one popular and angry tweet reads.

Another viral tweet showed a screenshot detailing allegations that Trump had sexually abused 12 and 13-year-old girls.

The problem is that the vast majority of the documents currently circulating, including the one above, have been available for years and were covered by the news media when they first broke. Julie K. Brown, the author of Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story and the person who first elevated Epstein’s crimes to the national spotlight, explained in several tweets this week how the information currently circulating is old.

“This is FALSE,” Brown tweeted on Wednesday. “The documents released last week provide no evidence that Trump was a co-conspirator of Epstein. (Which is why no major media has reported it). Folks, use your head. If there was evidence in a file made public, trust me, the media would be all over it). These kinds of posts defy logic yet y’all are retweeting this propaganda.”

To be abundantly clear, there are Epstein-related documents that were newly released last week. The Palm Beach Post sued for access to documents from the 2006 grand jury investigation into Epstein and 171 pages of notes and testimony were released to the newspaper on July 1. (Some outlets have reported 176 pages, but that includes the first five pages of recent legal filings). The Palm Beach Post then published the documents for anyone to view.

What do the documents show? The prosecutor in that 2006 case comes off as incredibly hard on the abuse victims for some reason, allowing Epstein to skate by with the lesser charge of “solicitation of prostitution” rather than the more serious charge of exploitation of underage girls. As the Palm Beach Post puts it, the state attorney of Palm Beach County at the time, Barry Krischer, “torpedoed his own case in front of grand jurors.” The entire proceeding lasted just four hours.

That, of course, is an important story to cover in itself, and it was picked up last week by major media outlets like ABC News, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and countless others. But it has nothing to do with the allegations from the 1990s that Trump raped young girls while hanging out with Epstein.

That hasn’t stopped people from insisting there’s a conspiracy to suppress damning new rape allegations against Trump. The most viral screenshot comes from a lawsuit filed back in 2016 by an anonymous woman who claims she was raped by Trump when she was 13. The identity of that woman was never revealed. She backed out of a press conference and ultimately dropped her suit on November 4, 2016, just four days before the election that Trump would win against Hillary Clinton. Vox published a run-down at the time of the allegations against Trump and why they were hard to verify if the accuser didn’t come forward.

But the outrage over these documents online has definitely given the impression that someone is covering something up for Trump. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, even expressed outrage that these viral allegations he’d seen on Twitter weren’t being covered more widely.

“We hear a lot from our constituents on different issues,” Lieu (D-CA) said at a press conference on Tuesday. “But something I’ve heard that doesn’t seem to be being covered are the Epstein files.”

It’s completely understandable why so many people are upset if they believe these documents going viral are new. They’re disturbing to read and there’s plenty of evidence that Trump was pals with Epstein, including photos of the two men together as well as a video from 1992 showing them partying together. Trump would claim while president in 2019 that he “wasn’t a fan” of Epstein despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Trump is currently leading in the polls against President Joe Biden, which has started to alarm many Democrats after Biden’s poor debate performance two weeks ago. There’s been a steady drumbeat of mainstream Democrats calling for Biden to drop out of the race and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to run in November. Actor George Clooney became the latest high-profile Democrat to call for Biden to drop out on Wednesday, but Biden has pledged to continue running.

There isn’t some conspiracy to hide Trump or Epstein-related documents that have been available for years. But it’s easy to see why people are frustrated about the asymmetry of media coverage happening right now between Trump and Biden. The president is clearly struggling as he gets older, as everyone eventually does, but Trump is the one who has pledged to become a dictator on day one and imprison his perceived enemies. Trump even suggested late last year that Gen. Mark Milley should be executed for treason, a comment that most people have probably forgotten by now.

It’s a genuinely historic race that will determine the future of democracy. And it’s almost a given that it’s going to get so much weirder between now and November.

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