Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Key accuser ‘Jane’ recalls meeting Trump at Mar-a-Lago with Epstein during gruelling cross-examination

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·5-min read
Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Key accuser ‘Jane’ recalls meeting Trump at Mar-a-Lago with Epstein during gruelling cross-examination
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  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier
  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States

The key prosecution witness in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial told a federal court in New York how Jeffrey Epstein had driven her to Mar-a-Lago to meet Donald Trump when she was just 14 years old.

The accuser, testifying under the pseudonym “Jane”, faced a gruelling cross-examination by Ms Maxwell’s defence team on the third day of her trial.

A day earlier Jane had described in vivid detail being subjected to years of sexual abuse by Epstein at properties in Palm Beach, New York and New Mexico between the ages of 14 and 16, and how Ms Maxwell had joined in on multiple occasions.

Ms Maxwell faces six charges: one each of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sex acts, sex trafficking of a minor, and three counts of conspiracy related to the other counts.

She has denied all the charges.

On Wednesday, defence attorney Laura Menninger asked Jane whether Epstein had introduced her to Mr Trump.

“Correct,” Jane replied.

“He took you to Mar-a-Lago when you were 14 years old,” Ms Menninger asked.

“Yes,” Jane said.

Ms Meninger continued: “He took you in a dark green car, and you met Donald Trump, correct?”

Jane responded in the affirmative.

Ms Menninger asked if Jane could recall being on Epstein’s private planes with a “number of individuals”, including Prince Andrew, which Jane said was accurate.

She said she also met Epstein’s brother Mark Epstein and his former personal chef, Los Angeles-based celebrity chef Adam Perry Lang, on flights on his private jets.

Jane added that she was never ordered to have sex with Epstein’s associates or to recruit other girls.

Ghislaine Maxwell looks at her brother Kevin Maxwell and sister Isabel Maxwell during her trial in a courtroom sketch on 1 December (Reuters)
Ghislaine Maxwell looks at her brother Kevin Maxwell and sister Isabel Maxwell during her trial in a courtroom sketch on 1 December (Reuters)

Ms Menninger also asked Jane about being introduced to renowned 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace, and performing a song at his 80th birthday party in May of 1998.

“You came in and sang Happy Birthday to Mr Wallace and you were 15?” Ms Menninger asked.

Jane said she couldn’t remember how old she was, but conceded she would have been older than 15 in 1998.

During her marathon cross examination, Ms Menninger repeatedly confronted Jane with statements she had made to the FBI over more than 10 interviews between 2019 and 2021.

Ms Menninger tried to hone in on alleged inconsistencies between the interviews and Jane’s testimony in court, and whether Ms Maxwell was really present when some of the alleged abuse occurred.

On Tuesday, Jane had described Ms Maxwell and Epstein leading her up the stairs to Epstein’s bedroom in his Palm Beach mansion before she was abused.

Ms Menninger said that detail had not appeared in her FBI interviews in 2019 and asked if she had come “up with that memory in the last two years?”

“You gave a memory to the jury yesterday that you didn’t have in December 2019?”

Jane replied: “I don’t recall.”

Jane said that the FBI notes from the interviews were not verbatim transcripts of what she had told them, and there could have been a typo.

Ms Menninger then referred to an interview Jane gave to the FBI in February 2020 where she said other women had been present the first time she alleged she was abused by Ms Maxwell, contradicting her testimony in court.

“Another typo from the government,” Ms Menninger asked, her voice dripping in sarcasm.

“Yes,” Jane replied, saying on another occasion that “memory is not linear”.

Ms Meninger also asked Jane about her role on a long-running television soap opera, and described the many plotlines the character had been involved in, including being stalked by a serial killer, working as a prostitute and taking down a Mexican drug cartel.

“You consider yourself to be an actor… an actor who portrays the role of a fictional character for a living… an actor endeavours to convey effectively the character to an audience… and takes lines borrowed from a writer.”

Ghislaine Maxwell in court (Elizabeth Williams/PA) (AP)
Ghislaine Maxwell in court (Elizabeth Williams/PA) (AP)

Under the withering assault, Jane largely remained calm and unflustered, smiling at the jury and even laughing on several occasions.

But during redirect examination from prosecutor Alison Moe, Jane became emotional when asked why she hadn’t immediately shared all of the abuse allegations with investigators.

“I was in a room full of strangers and telling them the most shameful, deepest secrets that I’ve been carrying around with me my whole life.”

In a reference to the defence’s questioning about her career as an actor, Ms Moe asked Jane if she knew the difference between acting on television and testifying in court.

“Yes. This is real. I am seeking closure. I have been running from this my entire life. I want to help in whatever way I can. And maybe find some healing.”

Ms Moe asked about the $5m settlement she got from the victims’ fund (of which she received approximately $2.9m).

“What did that money mean to you?”

Jane held a tissue to her face and momentarily struggled to find the words. She began crying and answered: “I wish I never received that money in the first place because of what happened.”

“Do you have any financial interest in this trial?”

“No.”

Throughout the day Ms Maxwell scribbled notes and conferred with her attorneys. She rubbed her arms frequently, indicating she was feeling cold, and was supported in court by her sister Isabel and brother Kevin, who was in court for the first time.

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