White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday argued President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's well wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell were intended to convey that he wants to see justice served in the courtroom for the associate of Jeffrey Epstein.
"What the president was noting is that the last person who was charged in [Epstein's] case ended up dead in a jail cell, and the president wants justice to be served for the victims in this case, and he prefers this to play out in a courtroom," McEnany said on Fox News, defending Trump's warm comments about Maxwell earlier this week at a White House press briefing.
"This president is the president that banned Jeffrey Epstein from coming to Mar-a-Lago," she added when anchor Bret Baier called Trump's comments a "strange answer."
"This president was always on top of this, ahead of this, noting this, banning this man from his property long before this case was even being played out in a court of law," McEnany said.
Trump was asked Tuesday during a briefing on the coronavirus about Maxwell, who is awaiting trial on charges that she helped recruit young girls who were sexually abused by Epstein.
"I haven't really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. I've met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach," Trump told reporters. "But I wish her well, whatever it is."
The president's remarks sparked criticism, including from one GOP lawmaker who called Trump's comments inappropriate.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty earlier this month to sex crime and perjury charges. Authorities allege she helped entice and transport minors to engage in sexual acts in the mid-1990s. Her trial is scheduled to begin in July 2021.
Trump's connections to Epstein and Maxwell came under scrutiny after Epstein was indicted last summer on sex trafficking charges. The billionaire killed himself in his jail cell last August while awaiting trial.
Trump and Epstein were known to run in the same social circles in New York and Florida. Trump told New York magazine in a 2002 article that Epstein is a "terrific guy" and "a lot of fun to be with."
The president has since said that the two had a falling out and had not seen or spoken to each other in years.