William Barr Says He's Recused From Epstein Case Over Legal Conflict

Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced his recusal from the high-profile Jeffrey Epstein case because his former law firm once represented the convicted sex offender.

"I am recused from that matter because one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm I subsequently joined for a period of time," Barr told reporters in South Carolina. Earlier today, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York indicted Epstein on felony charges related to sex trafficking minors, including one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.

Following Barr's comments, several prominent people following the case, including Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI Assistant Director for counterintelligence, noted that Barr's headmaster father, Donald Barr, had once hired Epstein to teach at the private Dalton School in New York. According to Law and Crime, Epstein taught calculus and physics at the school from 1973 to 1975.

AG William Barr: "I'm recused from that matter because one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm that I subsequently joined for a period of time." pic.twitter.com/hdwqgOlrWD

— The Hill (@thehill) July 8, 2019

During his confirmation hearing in January, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked Barr whether he would conduct a "full and thorough investigation" into the Justice Department's handling of Epstein's case, in particular, the non-prosecution agreement from 2008.

"Senator, I have to recuse myself from Kirkland & Ellis matters, I am told," Barr said at the time. "And I think Kirkland & Ellis was maybe involved in that case, so I need to sort out exactly what my role can be. I will say that if I'm confirmed I'll make sure your questions are answered on this case."

According to Law and Crime, Kirkland & Ellis were involved in the Epstein case and the firm's senior partner Jay Lefkowitz is among the list of notable attorneys, which also includes Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who have once represented the billionaire.

In 2008, the federal investigation into Epstein came to an end after he struck a controversial deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to two Florida state prostitution charges, despite being accused of sexually abusing more than 30 minors. His possible life sentence was watered down to 13-months in Palm Beach County Jail, financial settlements to multiple victims and a requirement he register as a sex offender. The deal also granted immunity to Epstein's co-conspirators.

President Donald Trump's Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, reportedly oversaw the deal and has since defended the agreement as appropriate under the circumstances. In February, a federal judge ruled that Acosta illegally kept details of Epstein's plea deal from his victims.

Attorney General William Barr
U.S. Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks during the National Police Week 31st Annual Candlelight Vigil on the National Mall May 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr on Monday said he has been recused from the Jeffrey Epstein case due to legal conflicts. Chip Somodevilla/Getty