House Judiciary panel investigating circumstances of Epstein's apparent suicide

Posted at 5:18 PM, Aug 12, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at a New York jail, asking the Bureau of Prisons a host of questions about Epstein's apparent suicide .

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, and Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the panel's top Republican, sent the Bureau of Prisons' acting director, Hugh Hurwitz, a letter on Monday with nearly two dozen questions about Epstein's confinement, his monitoring before his death and his removal from suicide watch.

The lawmakers also want information about the Bureau of Prisons' suicide prevention policies and whether they were implemented at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York where Epstein was held.

"The apparent suicide of this high-profile and -- if allegations are proven to be accurate -- particularly reprehensible individual while in the federal government's custody demonstrates severe miscarriages of or deficiencies in inmate protocol and has allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice," Nadler and Collins wrote.

The House Judiciary Committee's demand for information comes as Attorney General William Barr announced Saturday that the FBI and the Justice Department's internal watchdog would investigate Epstein's death.

Barr said Monday investigators were learning of "serious irregularities" at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The investigation into what went wrong in the Epstein case is focusing not only on the 24 hours before the suicide but also on wider systemic problems at the jail that have now come to light, a person briefed on the matter told CNN.

The lawmakers said they did not want to wait for the outcome of the Justice Department investigations before receiving their own information. They are asking for a response by August 21.

"The Attorney General has stated that the FBI and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice are investigating the death of Mr. Epstein, and we look forward to learning the results of their inquiries," Nadler and Collins wrote. "However, it is imperative that the Committee on the Judiciary, which has the responsibility to exercise oversight over the Department of Justice, receive responses to these questions related to the adequacy of BOP's suicide prevention policies and their implementation in this instance, as soon as possible."