Fox News’ clean up in Aisle Jeffrey Epstein is a twofer designed to shift blame away from Trump administration Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Fox fave Alan Dershowitz and onto Robert Mueller and, coincidentally pre-undermine his testimony in front of Congress next week.
As Media Matters explained, blaming Mueller started as a far-right conspiracy that has now migrated from Alex Jones and QAnon to Fox News. Media Matters also explained why this is a completely bogus claim:
Epstein, who was arrested over the weekend and charged with new federal sex trafficking crimes, was able to obtain a non-prosecution agreement in 2008 as part of a deal that saw him serve just 13 months in a Florida county jail as a consequence of his sexual abuse of children. The deal -- which was recently ruled an illegal violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act -- was overseen and approved by then-federal prosecutor Alex Acosta, who is currently President Donald Trump’s labor secretary.
Acosta has come under significant fire for his participation in the agreement, and far-right conspiracy theorists have sought to shift the blame for how the federal government handled Epstein’s previous case to Mueller, who was FBI director at the time. But Mueller had no involvement in the agreement, as The Daily Dot explained:
Robert Mueller was FBI director at the time of Epstein’s plea, but there’s no evidence that Mueller personally had anything to do with Epstein’s case or investigation, much less his sentencing. In the end, it was Acosta, in his capacity with the U.S. Attorney’s office, who gave Epstein his light sentence, not the FBI, because the FBI doesn’t handle the prosecution of offenders. It wouldn’t be Mueller’s call to make.
Also under fire is one of Fox’s favorite Mueller-investigation bashers, attorney Alan Dershowitz, who represented Epstein in the Florida case. Vox noted that Dershowitz was part of a team that “worked to discredit or intimidate the women and girls who came forward, and the authorities working on the case, according to the [Miami] Herald.” Slate reported that in 2011, Dershowitz told Vanity Fair, ““I’m on my 20th book…. The only person outside of my immediate family that I send drafts to is Jeffrey.” According to Slate, Dershowitz later claimed that his relationship with Epstein was “entirely professional.” Today, Dershowitz said about the new indictment, ““From my point of view, the important thing is that it doesn’t mention me.”
But Trump TV is trying to smear Mueller as the big villain. Media Matters caught Fox News regular Charlie Kirk tweeting the accusation Saturday night:
Did you know:— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 7, 2019
The FBI, under Robert Mueller, let child predator Jeffrey Epstein off with a weak plea deal
Dozens of young girls accused him of assaulting them
Maybe Mueller should have gone after Epstein as hard as he went after our President
On today’s Outnumbered, #OneLuckyGuy and Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones, whom you may remember from his widely-mocked stunt of wearing a tactical vest during a visit to the border, did his part for the effort. Jones has no apparent credentials in law, sexual crimes, criminal investigation, or criminal justice. But permanent lead host Harris Faulkner gave Kirk's baseless, ill-informed conspiracy theory her explicit approval (transcript excerpt mostly via Media Matters, with my emphases added):
JONES: Well, I don't think people are taking a total look at this. Because there's a lot of things that go into these decisions. A, when it's someone like this involved, this does not skip Washington. That means that AG knew about it, that means the investigative agency, the FBI, Bob Mueller --
FAULKNER: Well as Christine Pelosi said, some of the faves in the Democrat Party may be on a list here somewhere.
JONES: Exactly. Well, this was in 2008 under a Democratic administration.
JONES: So it's not just [Alex] Acosta making a decision like this. Other factors go -- and if there was corruption, then every investigative agency that was involved with it, including the attorney general's office, knew something about it.
FACT CHECK: Republican George W. Bush was president throughout 2008.
Sadly, liberal cohost Leslie Marshall let the smear go by without addressing it. Instead, she replied, “That sickens me.” She did put forth a good explanation of what was wrong with the Florida settlement.
None of the other cohosts corrected the record either. But conservative cohost Melissa Francis condemned Donald Trump’s recent response to Epstein’s arrest. “There needs to be a massive investigation” into what happened with the Acosta settlement, she said, “and if there was corruption afoot.”
Watch what will surely not be the only attempt to frame Mueller for the Epstein deal below, from the July 9, 2019 Outnumbered.