On October 20 2020, the Facebook page for “Occupy Democrats” shared the following photograph of a much younger Donald Trump with now-infamous pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein — alongside a claim it showed Trump bringing his children to “hang out” with Epstein:
A caption read:
Yes, this is a photo of Trump taking his children to hang out with his pedophile buddy Jeffrey Epstein. If he can’t even protect his own children, how do you expect him to protect yours?
Occupy Democrats’ framing of the image appeared to hint at the mid-2020 #SaveOurChildren set of rumors, centering on claims of sex trafficking and elite rings of pedophiles.
A Very Brief History of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein
Trump and Epstein both moved in powerful circles in Manhattan, and their acquaintance was well documented.
In August 2020, we addressed a circulating claim that Trump had once spoken of Epstein as a friend (Trump being one of many, many notable individuals with a connection to Epstein), and that Trump had even described Epstein as having a predilection for “beautiful women,” some “on the younger side“:
In a broader context, Trump was far from the only well-connected New Yorker linked to Epstein:
As quoted in that fact-check above, Epstein’s “black book” was something of a who’s who of the wealthy and famous:
Donald Trump, Courtney Love, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and -lawyer Alan Dershowitz may have been identified by a butler as potential “material witnesses” to pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes against young girls, according to a copy of Epstein’s little black book obtained by Gawker.
An annotated copy of the address book, which also contains entries for Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Griffin Dunne, New York Post gossip Richard Johnson, Ted Kennedy, David Koch, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, and all manner of other people you might expect a billionaire to know, turned up in court proceedings after Epstein’s former house manager Alfredo Rodriguez tried to sell it in 2009. About 50 of the entries, including those of many of Epstein’s suspected victims and accomplices as well as Trump, Love, Barak, Dershowitz, and others, were circled by Rodriguez. (The existence of the book has been previously reported by the Daily Mail. Gawker is publishing it in full here for the first time; we have redacted addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and the last names of individuals who may have been underage victims.)
Up until the early 2000s, Donald Trump was known as a real estate developer and occasional celebrity; Epstein was known as a shadowy financier with a lot of famous and wealthy friends.
The Photograph of Trump and His Children ‘Hanging Out’ with Epstein
LeadStories.com located the image in question in the archives of photographer Dafydd Jones. Jones included a name and caption for the image:
Eric Trump,, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein
Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Harley Davidson Cafe opening. Manhattan. 1993
LeadStories.com also linked to an October 17 1993 New York Times article, titled “Forever Harley,” reporting on the opening of a new Harley Davidson cafe in Manhattan:
[In October 1993], the marketing of the motorcycle mystique continues with the opening of the Harley-Davidson Cafe at 56th Street and Avenue of the Americas. As its nearby brethren, the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, did with rock-and-roll and movies, the Harley-Davidson Cafe will attempt to take a phenomenon that is rich in images and associations and offer it to the public for the mere price of a hamburger. Of course, T-shirts imprinted with the restaurant’s logo are extra.
“Actually, we’ll have T-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps and jackets,” said Marc Packer, the Harley-Davidson Cafe’s president, who is using the Harley-Davidson name under license from the company. He owns two other Manhattan restaurants, Wolf’s Delicatessen and Canastel’s,
The three-tiered, 14,000-square-foot Harley-Davidson Cafe is being billed by its owners as the world’s first “interactive” restaurant. What this seems to mean is that amid the normal rock music there will be the piped-in sounds of revving Harleys (for Harley aficionados, louder is better), ersatz exhaust smoke, vintage bikes on display, a giant American flag that publicity material says will “appear to ripple in the wind” and a real Harley bolted to the floor, on which patrons can make videotapes of themselves “riding” in front of famous backdrops, like Route 66.
Trump received a brief mention at the end, as Packer asserted celebrities were expected to attend the venue’s opening night:
And the celebrities, too, are expected to be there, at least on opening night.
“Donald Trump called me himself,” Mr. Packer said. “He’s coming.”
Mr. Srybnik, who creates his own personal Harley-Davidson Cafe nearly every weekend simply by parking his customized Softail on the streets of New York, plans to be there as well.
Unrelated images from the same night in 1993 had long been in circulation, such as one seen on Reddit depicting Trump and daughter Ivanka:
The image on the left, of Trump, his children, and Epstein, was clearly real. But nothing in it suggested any explanation above and beyond two prominent New York City residents attending the opening of a new restaurant.
In a broader context, the night was one during which several oddly significant images of prominent people were captured. Getty Images’ archive of the Harley Davidson Cafe’s opening night includes a number of well-known people in its 57 images — among them Nicole Brown Simpson and OJ Simpson. (Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered less than a year later, in June 1994.)
Incidentally, all captions of Brown Simpson and Simpson indicated it showed the opening of the Harley Davidson Cafe in Manhattan in September 1989, likely an error in captioning based on the Times article’s placement of the event in October 1993.
Occupy Democrats initially labeled the image of Trump, his children, and Epstein as “Trump taking his children to hang out with his pedophile buddy Jeffrey Epstein.” The image was authentic and unaltered, but that particular description took a number of liberties. Epstein was not arrested nearly a decade and a half as of 1993, and Trump was clearly bringing his children to an event. A number of celebrities attended that opening night event, and there was no indication that Trump and Epstein were “hanging out,” versus “present at the same event in Manhattan.”