Trump stokes conspiracy about Epstein death, stands by wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE in a new interview questioned Jeffrey Epstein's cause of death in prison and stood by his well wishes for Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping recruit young girls who were sexually abused by the disgraced financier.

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan asked Trump in an interview that aired on HBO late Monday why he would offer warm wishes to Maxwell, who is awaiting trial for alleged sex crimes. In the process, Trump stoked a conspiracy theory about Epstein's death, which his own attorney general has said was by suicide.

"She's now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well," Trump said of Maxwell. "I would wish you well. I would wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty."

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"So you're saying you hope she doesn't die in jail? Is that what you mean by wish her well?" Swan asked.

"Her boyfriend died in jail, and people are still trying to figure out how did it happen," Trump said, referring to Epstein. "Was it suicide, was he killed? And I do wish her well. I'm not looking for anything bad for her. I'm not looking bad for anybody."

"And people took that and they made it such a big deal, but all it is is her boyfriend died," the president continued. "He died in jail. Was he killed, was it suicide? I do. I wish her well."

Epstein, who was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, died in his jail cell in August 2019. His death provoked conspiracy theories given his ties to powerful figures, but Attorney General William BarrBill BarrFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Why a backdoor to encrypted data is detrimental to cybersecurity and data integrity FBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation MORE has stated definitively that the billionaire died by suicide. Barr said he reviewed video footage that showed nobody entered the area of Epstein's cell the night of his death.

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Trump has faced scrutiny for his own ties to Epstein and Maxwell. The president ran in the same social circles as Epstein in New York and Florida, and he told New York magazine in a 2002 article that Epstein was a "terrific guy" and "a lot of fun to be with."

The president distanced himself from Epstein following his arrest, saying the two had a falling out and hadn't been in contact for roughly 15 years. But he made no such effort upon Maxwell's arrest.

"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 last month. "But I wish her well, whatever it is."