Attorney General Barr 'appalled' by Epstein death in federal custody

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFederal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Mulvaney ties withheld Ukraine aid to political probe sought by Trump MORE on Saturday decried the death of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein in federal custody while he awaited charges on sex trafficking, saying the apparent suicide "raises serious questions."

“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered," Barr said in a statement.

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"In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death," Barr added.

Epstein was reportedly placed on suicide watch in late July after he was found unconscious in his jail cell with marks around his neck. However, reports Saturday indicated he was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons announced earlier Saturday morning that the FBI would investigate his death.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center, the Manhattan jail where Epstein was being held awaiting trial, did not immediately return The Hill's request for clarification about Epstein's suicide watch.

In the statement earlier Saturday, the Bureau of Prisons said Epstein had been discovered in his cell about 6:30 a.m. and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment where he was later pronounced dead.

Some lawmakers and advocates for those who have accused Epstein of sexual abuse said Saturday that the federal investigation into the allegations against Epstein and the 2008 plea deal he received should move forward, despite Epstein's death.

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represented a number of Epstein's accusers, told NBC News on Saturday that she would continue to represent civil lawsuits against his estate.

"On behalf of the victims I represent, we would have preferred he [Jeffrey Epstein] lived to face justice. Our civil cases can still proceed against his estate. Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We’re just getting started," she tweeted.

Lawmakers including Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelDemocrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Impeachment inquiry overshadows Trump at UN | Veterans push VA to follow through on reforms | Iranian leader open to changes in nuke deal Pelosi to launch formal Trump impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Fla.) have called for Congress to investigate why the multimillionaire was offered a plea deal in 2008 that is widely viewed as having been too lenient.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to solicitation of a minor but, under a plea deal with then-U.S. attorney and former Trump Cabinet member Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena Sanders calls Eugene Scalia's Labor Dept. confirmation 'obscene' MORE, he served only 13 months and was allowed to spend 12 hours a day outside of jail.

Updated at 2:15 p.m.