It should be no surprise that the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell has lifted the Jeffrey Epstein saga off life support with a potent shot of adrenaline and steroids. Whilst it’s too early to know what she might or might not reveal in exchange for some sort of immunity or lesser sentence, the circumstances surrounding her capture are curious to say the least.
Bearing in mind that she’s facing some pretty serious criminal charges, we’re forced to wonder whether it’s really credible that the US authorities had no idea where she was hiding this whole time. The majority of people who live in the real world will raise an eyebrow when they learn that Ms Maxwell has been holed up in a million dollar mansion in New Hampshire the whole time, yet nobody was able to track her down until recently. If you or I wanted to go on the run we’d be forced to channel our inner Charles Bronson and vanish into blinking neon motel obscurity. Even then there would be no guarantee that the very capable and well-resourced FBI wouldn’t catch up with us eventually. After all, the Feds know that flophouse central is a likely place to look.
The idea that the US authorities were completely unaware that Ghislaine Maxwell was living a comfortable life right under their very noses is about as believable as the Pakistani government having absolutely no clue that Osama bin Laden was hiding just a stone’s throw from a military academy.
This does of course lead us to ask why the one person with the most direct knowledge of Epstein’s affairs made no serious attempt either to leave the country or disappear into some sort of serious hiding. The answer is obvious really; because although she needed to escape from the press and the public, Maxwell never seriously feared arrest or prosecution.
So what’s changed?
The charges laid against her refer to alleged incidents that happened several years ago, so it’s unlikely that some new piece of information has suddenly come to the attention of law enforcement. Clearly some other factor is at work and although there’s no evidence for it, I can’t help wondering if they finally decided to move in now that the EncroChat system is publicly compromised. Thousands of handsets are now going through the wood-chipper, effectively cutting off what was undoubtedly a very useful source of intelligence. As I said, that’s pure speculation, but the timing’s interesting if nothing else.
At the moment all we know for sure is that something’s happened to prompt the FBI to move in and take her into custody. Maybe some of the late Mr Epstein’s associates have also discovered her location, or maybe the authorities have amassed enough information by other methods to corroborate any statement she might subsequently make.
Whatever the truth of it, the rumours and conspiracy theories will swirl for years and some parts of the story may never be revealed. The one thing we can know for sure is that something is shifting in the upper echelons of US society. Ghislaine Maxwell’s luck has run out not because of some stupid blunder or random encounter; she’s been arrested because the American authorities no longer have any particular interest in not hearing her evidence. That’s always a political calculation and never a legal one.
I’m sure it’s just another coincidence that the late Mr Epstein was a prolific Democratic donor and there’s an election looming in November.
Nothing to see here. Carry on.