RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
She is accused of helping run a sex trafficking operation that catered to rich and powerful men. Now we're getting a look at newly unsealed documents in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell. She was the former girlfriend of the late Jeffrey Epstein. Before we go further, I just want to note for listeners these documents do contain details that may not be appropriate for younger listeners to hear about.
Ben Wieder is an investigative reporter for McClatchy's D.C. bureau, and he joins us now. He's reported on the documents for the Miami Herald. Hi, Ben.
BEN WIEDER: Hi, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: Yeah. Thanks for being here. What can you tell us about these documents?
WIEDER: Well, hundreds of pages of documents were released yesterday. These are from a lawsuit - a defamation suit that was brought by one of Epstein and Maxwell's alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, against Maxwell in 2015. And what these documents really sort of show in great detail is the role that that Ghislaine Maxwell played in the sex crimes that Epstein has been accused of and has, you know, at least in some limited fashion, admitted to in a plea deal many years ago. They show the role that Maxwell played, both in recruiting girls for Epstein and for their famous and high-powered friends and, in many cases, partaking in the abuse herself.
MARTIN: So you have gone through them. Understanding the context of the case, what do you think are the biggest findings out of these documents?
WIEDER: I think one of the significant findings - for me, one of the things that was notable to see was - were email exchanges between Epstein and Maxwell from 2015. And they're notable for a couple of reasons. One, I think it gives insight into their relationship and into the way that they saw themselves and saw the crimes that they are accused of. Epstein is telling Maxwell in 2015, essentially, hold your head high. You've done nothing wrong. You should act like it. You know, return to society; go to parties. No one cares about the things that we've been accused of. You shouldn't feel any shame for any of the things that have - that you're being accused of that we've done.
I think that's notable partially 'cause it just gives you insight into their thinking. But it's also notable from a legal perspective because Maxwell's lawyers argued in requesting bail in her criminal case - which ultimately was denied - they argued that she had not been in contact with Epstein in more than a decade. Well, these emails dispute that narrative. These emails show that they were, in fact, in contact in the last five years. So - yeah.
MARTIN: Yeah. Well, I mean, what kind of impact is that going to have, then, against the case against her?
WIEDER: I think, in general, you know, in the days leading up to the release of these documents, Maxwell's team was fighting desperately to block their release and, in fact, was successful in blocking the release of a deposition by Maxwell in another deposition at least for the time being. What these documents and what these emails make it harder for her legal team to accomplish is to say that Maxwell is not Epstein. And that's what they've tried to do throughout. They've actually even explicitly said, Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein. And these documents make it very hard to separate Maxwell's behavior from Epstein's behavior, which makes it a harder argument and a harder case for her defense team in arguing that she was not responsible for Epstein's crimes.
MARTIN: Ben Wieder with McClatchy, we appreciate your reporting on this. Thank you.
WIEDER: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.