Culture

Why Is No One Talking About Jeffrey Epstein's Lawyer Now Serving As A Federal Judge?

By Gwen Farrell
·  6 min read
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It’s been three years since disgraced financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died by supposed suicide in his cell in New York City, but we’re still left with more questions than answers.

For one, who was on his client list, and will his girlfriend and convicted co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell ever release any names? Where did his wealth really originate, and who stands to gain the most from his death?

We might never know the answers to these questions, but we do know a few names who were guests aboard the so-called Lolita Express (gross) and his private island of Little Saint James in the Caribbean. Figures like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Stephen Colbert, Prince Andrew, Kevin Spacey, and Alan Dershowitz were all guests of Epstein's at one time or another, and while these are all notable public figures, we might be wondering about the figures behind the scenes, like whom Epstein retained as his legal counsel. Even criminals like sex offenders need attorneys, after all.

The answer might surprise you, especially because Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer is now serving as a federal judge.

Bruce Reinhart, Before He Was Epstein’s Lawyer

Bruce Reinhart was born in New Jersey, and educated at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. While at UPenn, he was an associate editor of the Law Review. Reinhart is married to Carolyn Bell, a judge for the Southern District of Florida and former attorney for the Department of Justice, who was educated at the University of California at Berkeley.

Reinhart was both an assistant and supervisory U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 1996 to 2008. While in that office, according to a press release from the U.S. District Court in Florida, he “managed a docket that covered the full spectrum of federal crimes, including narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption, financial frauds, child pornography, and immigration.” In 2018, Reinhart was appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott to a magistrate judge position for the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Florida.

We have a lengthy history of Reinhart professionally, but not much is known about him personally or socially. His past Facebook posts do offer some insight, though. Reinhart has been notably critical of Donald Trump, especially with regard to Trump’s comments regarding the death of civil rights leader John Lewis, quoting attorney Joseph Welch’s words to Senator Joseph McCarthy: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” In another Facebook post from 2017, he lamented living in a state that is “less enlightened on criminal justice than Louisiana and Mississippi.”

He previously donated money to both Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for president and Republican Jeb Bush’s campaign. Reinhart also recused himself from Trump’s lawsuit against 2016 presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Reinhart’s reason for his recusal was a legal citation requiring judges to be impartial. 

Reinhart’s Connection to Epstein

In October 2007, Reinhart was a well-respected federal prosecutor. Just three months later, as his colleagues were attempting to negotiate a plea deal with Epstein and resolve his sex trafficking cases in the Southern District of Florida, Reinhart had resigned from his post. He left the position to defend Epstein’s accomplices, including pilots of Epstein’s private jet and his so-called “scheduler,” Sarah Kellen. Kellen, though portrayed as Epstein’s secretary, was accused of procuring underage girls for him and his associates.

A 2018 expose from The Miami Herald detailing this strange turn of events – a federal prosecutor defecting to defend a high-powered financier accused of sex trafficking – rightfully questions just how far Epstein’s reach was, if he was so easily able to procure a former U.S. attorney to defend his accomplices. There has also been speculation, explained in the expose, about Epstein’s influence and relation to other notable Palm Beach County bureaucrats, including the sheriff. It’s logical to surmise that Epstein’s network, which perpetrated the rape, abuse, trafficking and exploitation of underage girls, was able to survive for as long as it did because of those connections.

Federal prosecutor Reinhart resigned to defend a high-powered financier accused of sex trafficking.

Reinhart was later named by Epstein’s victims in a lawsuit, alleging that he had gained inside knowledge of the case through his work at the Department of Justice, thereby giving him an unfair advantage with which to defend Epstein’s employees. Unsurprisingly, Reinhart denied this, but the victims’ suit defended their allegation, saying that the former U.S. attorney attempted to “curry favor with Epstein and then reap his reward through favorable employment.”

Reinhart’s Work Post-Epstein

With such an unusual career change, you might be wondering what Bruce E. Reinhart is currently up to. Just 10 years after serving as a defense attorney for Epstein’s criminal enterprise, Reinhart was appointed as a magistrate judge to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

On August 8, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a raid on Donald Trump’s private Palm Beach residence, Mar-a-Lago, citing an allegation that Trump had retained private classified documents from his time in office. The warrant which enabled the search to be executed was authorized by Judge Reinhart, according to Trump’s legal counsel Christina Bobb, who was present at the residence during the search.

The raid drew ire from Republicans, who noted the dangers of a politically-weaponized government agency, while Democrats viewed the search warrant as a long overdue maneuver into investigating Trump’s supposed criminal dealings. Regardless, shouldn’t it at least be slightly controversial that a judge who formerly defended a high-profile criminal – and not just any criminal, but one with the width and scope of Epstein’s criminal empire – is now executing search warrants on a former president?

Trump’s own connections to Epstein are well-documented, and that could be an important aspect of this unprecedented charge. The recently-released affidavits offer almost no clarity on the situation, and while that seems to be the public’s current focus, Reinhart has been permitted to fly under public scrutiny.

Closing Thoughts

We have been lectured since the 2016 presidential election about the importance of electing public officials with integrity. We have been lectured about the need for respect, transparency, uprightness, and ethicality in our public offices. If that’s what’s supposedly indispensable for the highest office in the land, why isn’t it necessary for others as well? If electing a president who isn’t provocative on Twitter is crucial to the function of our republic, why aren’t we holding other public servants to the same standard? Why aren’t we questioning how a sitting U.S. judge with former ties to the most prolific known sex trafficker in the last century is now able to authorize search warrants on a former president, whom, we know on record, he wasn’t able to be “impartial” toward?

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