After a star-studded gala in February 2014, Bill Clinton and his entourage headed to a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles for an intimate dinner with friends.
Their destination was Crossroads Kitchen, a Melrose Avenue hotspot that counts Beyoncé, Christina Applegate and Katy Perry as fans, and features a menu with artichoke “oysters,” hearts of palm “crab cakes” and tagliatelle “bolognese.” That night, the restaurant was bustling. One insider spotted producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actor Bruce Willis, while TMZ recorded actor Sean Penn gliding through the front door.
Producer Steve Bing—Clinton’s friend, major Democratic donor and investor in the restaurant who died by suicide this year—was already there waiting for the former president.
Former Clinton staffers Ben Schwerin, a future Snapchat executive, and then-talent agent Michael Kives were also on the guest list.
But two other unlikely guests joined the party that night: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell—accused of procuring underage girls for sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein—and tech CEO Scott Borgerson, now rumored to be her husband.
According to information obtained by The Daily Beast, Clinton’s advance team secured seating for the invitees and specifically noted Maxwell and someone named “Scott” had RSVP’d for the Thursday gathering.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation say aides had squabbled over Maxwell’s invitation beforehand due to her links to Epstein. Even to this day, Clinton insiders continue to point fingers over who should be blamed for Maxwell’s addition to the event.
The sources told The Daily Beast that longtime Clinton gatekeeper Doug Band cut Maxwell out of the president’s network in 2011 before he left Clinton’s employ the following year. (Band flew on Epstein’s private jet, including for Clinton’s 2002 humanitarian trip to Africa, and was listed in Epstein’s Little Black Book.)
Information obtained by The Daily Beast indicates Jon Davidson, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, knew Maxwell was attending the 2014 dinner, which he helped to organize. Davidson did not return messages seeking comment.
“This is an intimate dinner with Clinton in L.A.,” said one source who was disturbed by the decision. “Think of all the people he knows in L.A., and Ghislaine gets to attend.”
“It’s always someone else’s fault, it’s always not true … They’re always fighting against the reporting and not that they did it. That’s the problem.”
Schwerin told The Daily Beast he has no recollection or record of being at the dinner, while Kives said he did not attend and has never met Maxwell or noticed her at other Clinton dinners.
Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Clinton, declined to comment and referred The Daily Beast to a statement he issued in 2019:
“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York. In 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane: one to Europe, one to Asia, and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation. Staff, supporters of the Foundation, and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg of every trip. He had one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002, and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein’s New York apartment with a staff member and his security detail. He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”
One friend of the Clintons told The Daily Beast that Ghislaine was close to Clinton and daughter Chelsea, went backstage at Clinton Global Initiative events, and even visited their homes. The source said the Clintons should take responsibility for spending time with Maxwell, who allegedly offered the Clintons hotel stays, air travel and other largesse.
“It’s always someone else’s fault, it’s always not true,” the friend said. “They’re always fighting against the reporting and not that they did it. That’s the problem.”
By the time of the Crossroads dinner, the press had widely reported on Epstein’s abuse of girls at his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and lawsuits filed by victims of his trafficking scheme.
Claims of Maxwell’s involvement were known to Clinton staffers in 2011, when the Daily Mail reported on survivor Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to Prince Andrew when she was 17. The report included a photograph of the British royal posing with Giuffre at Maxwell’s London home. In the picture, Maxwell smiles in the background as Andrew grips Giuffre’s bare waist.
It’s unclear why Maxwell was reintroduced into Clinton’s circle—at least for one cozy meatless dinner in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2014.
The night of dinner, one person remembered Borgerson in particular because he wasn’t Ted Waitt, Maxwell’s ex-boyfriend and the billionaire Gateway co-founder. Waitt is a friend and supporter of the Clinton family, donating at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. “She had dated Ted Waitt for some time, so for her to go to a dinner like that, with someone who’s not Ted, was indicative that things moved on,” the source added.
TMZ reported Clinton dined with Penn that night but didn’t mention any of the other boldfaced names. The gossip site published video footage of Clinton slipping into the back of the restaurant after a Secret Service motorcade parked, and of Penn striding through the entrance, ignoring a stringer’s questions about meeting Bill.
Hours earlier, the men rubbed elbows at the Unite4:Humanity gala at a Sony Pictures Studios lot, where singer Demi Lovato and other celebrities took selfies with the former president. Clinton, who received a “unity recognition award,” was the keynote speaker.
Clinton flew to New York the next morning but Maxwell stayed in California. Three days after the group dinner with Clinton, Maxwell attended the Vanity Fair Oscar bash in West Hollywood, where a photographer snapped her with Elon Musk (who, in response to Twitter critics, claimed he was photobombed).
“This is an intimate dinner with Clinton in L.A. … Think of all the people he knows in L.A., and Ghislaine gets to attend.”
Another source with long ties to Clinton told The Daily Beast they were relieved Page Six or another outlet didn’t catch wind of the gathering.
In 2014, Maxwell worked to reinvent herself through her oceans nonprofit, the TerraMar Project, and was photographed at a slew of society parties. She jet-setted to Alaska for the Iditarod, and spoke at a UN roundtable, Google’s Ocean Agenda conference, and a TEDx conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Maxwell, now awaiting trial for perjury and grooming girls for Epstein, was friendly with the Clinton clan for years. She had a front-row seat to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010, reportedly as Waitt’s plus-one, at the Astor Courts estate in Rhinebeck, New York. Maxwell, Chelsea and husband Marc Mezvinsky “flew together on a private plane to rendezvous with Waitt for a trip on Waitt’s yacht” around that time, Politico reported.
Last year, a spokeswoman for Chelsea told CNN the former first daughter was only acquainted with Maxwell because of Waitt.
Still, Maxwell’s ties to the Clintons run deeper. As The Daily Beast previously revealed, Maxwell and Epstein attended a reception at the White House during Clinton’s presidency. Bill and Hillary Clinton hosted the 1993 event for donors to the White House Historical Association, which funded Oval Office renovations including gold draperies and a new rug.
Maxwell’s dubious charity, the Max Foundation, showed a $2,500 contribution to the “Clinton Library and Foundation” in 2003. And in 2002 and 2003, the socialite traveled with the former president when he took trips on Epstein’s plane throughout Asia and Africa. Maxwell also flew from Miami to Westchester County, New York, with a group that included Epstein, Clinton, Secret Service agents and Sarah Kellen, Epstein’s personal assistant and alleged accomplice.
In 2009, one attorney for Epstein victims hired an investigator to serve Maxwell with a subpoena as she schmoozed at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York. “To say she was upset about being publicly served at this function is an understatement,” attorney Brad Edwards wrote in his book.
Clinton isn’t the only high-profile politician under fire over ties to Epstein and Maxwell.
President Trump palled around with Epstein in the 1990s and at least until 2002, when he called the hedge-funder a “terrific guy” in an interview with New York.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life,” Trump told the magazine.
In 1992, Trump held a “calendar girl” competition at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, and Epstein was reportedly the only guest.
The same year, Epstein and Trump were videotaped at what appears to be a different party at Trump’s private club. Found in NBC archives, the footage was for a talk-show profile on Trump’s new life as a divorcee. The men ogle women on the dance floor, and Trump apparently tells Epstein, “Look at her, back there. … She’s hot.” Epstein smiles and nods before collapsing into giggles after Trump whispers something in his ear.
Jane Doe, one survivor of Epstein’s sex ring, said the financier introduced her to Trump in 1994, when she was 14 years old. Her lawsuit said Epstein “elbowed Trump playfully” before asking, “This is a good one, right?”
“Trump smiled and nodded in agreement,” Doe’s complaint alleges. “They both chuckled and Doe felt uncomfortable, but, at the time, was too young to understand why.” (Doe does not accuse Trump of any misconduct.)
Epstein and Trump “were good friends,” Epstein’s brother Mark told the Washington Post, adding that Trump flew on Epstein’s plane “numerous times.” The financier’s address book contains multiple entries for Trump and now-First Lady Melania.
The men supposedly had a falling out over real estate in 2004, when Epstein tried to outbid Trump in a bankruptcy auction for the Palm Beach mansion of nursing home magnate Abe Gosman, according to the Post.
Three years later, Page Six reported Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump also apparently hobnobbed with Maxwell. At a COVID press conference in July, Trump told reporters he met Maxwell “numerous times over the years” but couldn’t answer whether he thought the beleaguered socialite would spill dirt on other famous people accused of partaking in Epstein’s trafficking scheme.
“I don’t know. I haven’t been following it too much,” Trump said. “I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach. I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.”