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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Trump administration is on the hook for missteps in Epstein's death

Attorney General William Barr said he was "frankly

Attorney General William Barr said he was "frankly angry to learn of the [Metropolitan Correctional Center's] failure to adequately secure" Epstein. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Nicholas Kamm

Predictable conspiracy "theories" about the jailhouse death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein spread so fast and so far that the official probes may already be destined to disappoint TV and digital audiences craving signs of a dark murder plot.

These internet speculations can't even be called full-blown theories. They are armchair guesses. From the way things look, Epstein hanged himself, after failing earlier, because the federal jail system blundered its basic mission of custody, care and control.

The way things look often turns out to be the way things are.

Serious screwups cannot be dismissed. Nor could Epstein's ability to talk his way out of suicide watch. Not at this point in the drama — and not unless something truly exotic turns up.

When he died, Epstein was under Justice Department stewardship. Attorney General William Barr runs the department. Trump is his boss.

Those facts won't change. They present an embarrassing governance fiasco for the administration, as does its custody of migrant families.

Barr clearly knows this. He said he was "frankly angry to learn of the [Metropolitan Correctional Center's] failure to adequately secure" Epstein. He said that after learning of irregularities at the jail, the FBI and the Office of Inspector General are investigating.

Bureaucratic pressure is surely flowing downhill, as it always does.

Casual suspicions breed in the meantime.

Bill Clinton was friends with Epstein. So was Trump. Barr's father was once the headmaster at Dalton Prep, who hired Epstein to teach.

None of these facts tell us what happened at the MCC.

Right-wing lore, of course, casts the Clintons as a mythically untouchable and omnipotent organized-crime family. Tales of their alleged culpability have something akin to a self-driving car that needs only to be fueled, but not steered.

So Trump's proven devotion to blithely casting public aspersions could serve him well in this case. He's already primed his fans with contrived stories about other Justice Department cabals (against himself) and he retweeted one of his online devotees pointing to Clinton in the Epstein death. 

A Clinton spokeswoman asked if Trump "has triggered the 25th Amendment yet.”

Kellyanne Conway, who seems to be a Trump campaign aide paid by federal taxpayers, told Fox News on Monday: “I think the president just wants everything to be investigated.

"There was some unsealed information implicating some people very high up.”

That's a good way to keep the audience jumping to conclusions and ignoring any links between fumbled jailhouse governance and White House leadership. 

The tactic worked, to a degree, in deflecting attention from the probe of the 2016 Trump campaign's numerous Russian contacts.

To this day, Trump loyalists are still talking about "implicating some people very high up" in the justice system in that matter.

In this case, official ineptitude needs to be cleared as a suspect before everyone else gets a look.

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