Ehud Barak, head of the Israeli Democratic Party, was caught on camera entering the Manhattan townhouse of Jeffery Epstein with his face hidden, on the same day that a large group of women were seen entering the sex offender's home, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.
Epstein was convicted of soliciting a teenage girl for prostitution in 2008 and was indicted last week in connection with allegations that he was involved in the sex trafficking of dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005.
The photos were taken in January 2016, after Epstein arrived in New York from an overseas trip, according to the Daily Mail. At least four young women were seen going into the home within a matter of hours.
הדיילי מייל: pic.twitter.com/chl0wPJDvC— עמית סגל Amit Segal (@amit_segal) July 16, 2019
At the time, the Daily Mail reported that the four women included friends of Epstein Sue Hamblin and Jennifer Kalin as well as Russian model Lana Pozhidaeva. The fourth women, who remains unidentified, was seen joining Epstein on a trip to Teterborough Airport in New Jersey, where Epstein keeps his plane.
When the photos were taken, the identity of the man seen walking into the house was uncertain, but the Daily Mail has now confirmed that it was Barak. He admitted to the Daily Beast that it was him, but claimed that the visit was innocent.
"I was there, for lunch or chat, nothing else. So what?" said Barak. "I never attended a party with him. I never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls."
Barak told the Daily Beast that he covered his face because of the January New York weather. "It was so cold, the Middle Easterner had to put on a hat."On Wednesday morning, Barak tweeted a picture of himself with his face covered with a hat, scarf and sunglasses, where his face can barely be seen. "I admit, I usually cover my face when it is cold. Not just in New York. Everywhere in the world. I did not know that this was newsworthy until now. Will be revealing a collection of scarfs soon."
מודה, כשקר אני נוהג לכסות את הפרצוף. לא רק בניו יורק. בכל מקום בעולם. עד היום לא חשבתי שזו ידיעה עיתונאית. בקרוב חשיפה של קולקציית הצעיפים. pic.twitter.com/CMXS666zdm— אהוד ברק (@barak_ehud) July 17, 2019
The Israeli politician added that he had also been to Little St. James, Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands known as the "Island of Sin" – even after revelations that Epstein used the island for underage sex, although he claimed that he had not been to any parties or met girls there.
"The Head of the Israel Democratic Party, Ehud Barak, does not intend to continue dealing with spins whose purpose is to divert attention from the alleged criminal conduct of an acting prime minister who received $4.2 million and additional amounts from an American business man, who is his cousin, and also from convicted criminals in Europe," the party said in response on Tuesday night.
"Barak dismisses with disgust the abominable hints that appear in the article," the party added. "There is no news in the article. They are absolutely false, except that Barak admits that it is very cold in January in New York."
The statement by the party claimed that the British tabloid has "already published a number of false article of this kind, both about Barak and about other people. Other journalists, who dealt with these publications, found no evidence of these lies. Barak will act immediately through attorneys in order to file a libel suit against the Daily Mail.
"All of Ehud Barak's work these days is to consolidate the democratic camp into one united force that will work to bring Israel back on track and to keep it a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state for its citizens and their service," the statement.
Epstein financed much of an investment of several million dollars formerly made by Barak in the company Reporty Homeland Security, according to Haaretz. Now called Carbyne, it develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services.
Barak defended his decision to enter a business relationship with Epstein even though other former partners kept their distance.
“He’d served his sentence for soliciting prostitution – the indictment didn’t say she was a minor,” he said on Saturday on Channel 12’s Meet the Press.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Barak said that as soon as he heard about the new indictment, he instructed his attorneys to look into removing the company tied to Epstein from the limited partnership.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged Barak to explain why he was paid over $2 million by the Wexner Foundation in 2004 for what was described as a research program, when Epstein was among the foundation’s trustees. Barak was not in public office at the time. The Jewish philanthropist Leslie Wexner and Epstein were close friends and business associates at the time.
Marcy Oster/JTA contributed to this report.