WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced a staff shakeup at the federal jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, temporarily reassigning the warden and placing two corrections officers on administrative leave.
The announcement was made hours after President Donald Trump said he wanted a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death. Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning, having apparently hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan.
Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that James Petrucci, the warden at Federal Correctional Institution Otisville in New York, has been named as acting warden at MCC.
The previous warden’s reassignment is pending the outcome of investigations by the FBI and Inspector General into Epstein’s death the department said.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday vowed to carry on the Epstein investigation even after the wealthy and well-connected money manager’s death. Barr has ordered the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into the matter.
The 66-year-old financier had been on suicide watch, but a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was not on watch at the time of his death.
At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to the source.
“Basically what we’re saying is we want an investigation. I want a full investigation, and that’s what I absolutely am demanding. That’s what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing. He’s doing a full investigation,” Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.
Trump also defended his decision on Saturday to retweet an unfounded conspiracy theory from a conservative comedian named Terrence K. Williams that former President Bill Clinton was involved in Epstein’s death.
“He’s a very highly respected conservative pundit,” said of Williams. “He’s a big Trump fan. And that was a retweet. That wasn’t from me. … So I think I was fine.”
Epstein, who once counted Trump and Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14.
New York City’s medical examiner has said an autopsy on Epstein was completed on Sunday, but the cause of death remained pending.
A growing chorus of lawmakers has demanded that the government hold responsible people who allegedly helped Epstein engage in sex trafficking.
Senator Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, on Tuesday called on Barr to void a 2008 agreement that Epstein entered into with federal prosecutors in Florida that has been widely criticized as too lenient.