In 2000, Donald Trump grew irritated as he sat on his plane at LaGuardia airport, waiting for a tardy Jeffrey Epstein to arrive. He fumed to his sister, brother-in-law, and a reporter. The group was headed to Mar-a-Lago. The scene, which was described by reporter Michael Corcoran in a profile of Trump published in Maximum Golf magazine, illustrates just how friendly the president and Epstein were at the time.
Wearing his trademark dark-blue bespoke suit and white shirt, Trump paces the aisle of his plane, tugging at his tie like an accountant at 11:30 P.M. on April 15. “Never be late for someone else’s plane,” Trump says, his facial expression showing a mixture of annoyance and bemusement. The offending party is stuck in Friday rush-house traffic. “C’mon, Jeffrey, where are you?” Trump says. He’s talking about Jeffrey Epstein, another wealthy and well-known man who is traveling with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late media baron Robert Maxwell. The couple finally arrives, Epstein wearing an orange sweatshirt and jeans and Maxwell sporting sunglasses and fashionably tight pants. Trump brightens and gently chides them, forgiving their tardiness.
According to Corcoran, Epstein and Maxwell arrived with another passenger not mentioned in the piece. “They did board with a young woman of indeterminate age. I wouldn’t be able to tell if she was 15 or 20. She was quite dressed up and quite made up, so it was hard to tell,” Corcoran said over the weekend. “At the time I didn’t even know who Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were, so when they got on I thought, Maybe they’re married and that’s their niece.”
Last week, Trump publicly disavowed Epstein, saying he’d had a falling out with the registered sex offender, who’s now facing sex-trafficking charges in federal court: “I haven’t spoken to him in probably 15 years or more. I wasn’t a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein, that I can tell you.”
In the summer of 2000, around the time the Maximum Golf story was published, Maxwell allegedly recruited 16-year-old Mar-a-Lago employee Virginia Roberts Giuffre to be one of Epstein’s sex slaves, according to a lawsuite Giuffre filed against Maxwell, which was settled.
Trump’s relationship with Epstein stretches back to the 1980s. In 2002, two years after the profile in Maximum Golf, Trump described Epstein as a “terrific guy” he’d known for 15 years. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump told New York. According to the New York Times, in 1992, Trump and Epstein were the only two guests at a Mar-a-Lago party with dozens of female entertainers flown in from out of town, and in a deposition, Mark Epstein, Jeffrey’s brother, said that Trump flew on Epstein’s plane at least once, returning to New York from Palm Beach.
The nature of the “falling out” between Epstein and Trump is murky. Documents filed by Bradley Edwards, an attorney who has represented a number of Epstein accusers, claimed Trump eventually banned Epstein from Mar-a-Lago “because Epstein sexually assaulted an underage girl at the club.” According to James Patterson’s Filthy Rich, the daughter of a Mar-a-Lago member had been recruited back to Epstein’s mansion, where Epstein asked her to take off her clothes. The girl’s father told Trump about the incident and Trump barred Epstein from Mar-a-Lago.
The profile in Maximum Golf resurfaced in 2017, when Corcoran, who has since left journalism, said one of Trump’s quotes in the piece had been toned down prior to publication. “Trump needs no convincing on one point,” Corcoran wrote in the piece. “As he scans the diners on the veranda, a young socialite catches his eye. ‘There is nothing in the world like first-class talent,’ says Trump.” Corcoran told the Daily Beast that Trump’s quote had been tweaked by a senior editor at the magazine and that Trump had actually said, “There is nothing in the world like first-rate pussy.”