Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Monday that "something doesn't add up" when it comes to the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein inside a New York City federal prison. He called for "full transparency" on the events that led up to his death.
Speaking on "Fox & Friends," Whitaker stressed that notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was held at the same facility, but Epstein was reportedly not monitored closely enough to prevent his suicide.
"I was surprised to see they could hold [El Chapo] safely without incident and then have one alleged failed attempt at suicide [by Epstein] and now a successful attempt. ... The questions surrounding this, something doesn't add up and we need full transparency and we need the answers on this," he said, questioning how Epstein could have been left alone after a previous incident just weeks ago where he reportedly attempted suicide.
Epstein, 66, was found unconscious early Saturday in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, and later pronounced dead — raising questions about how the wealthy financier, imprisoned on sex trafficking charges, could have been able to kill himself while in a high-security facility just two weeks after being placed on suicide watch.
Correctional officers at the prison housing Epstein didn't check in on him for "several hours" leading up to his apparent suicide — despite being required to do so every 30 minutes, a person familiar with the situation told Fox News. His cellmate had been transferred elsewhere for reasons that were not immediately clear.
The Washington Post first reported the news of the alleged negligence Sunday night. Whitaker said Attorney General Bill Barr is taking the matter "incredibly seriously" and expressed confidence in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate.
"Nobody does it better than [the Bureau of Prisons], so I was really surprised to see that some of these protocols and procedures – the 30-minute check and the like – were not followed," said Whitaker, who led the Department of Justice in an acting capacity from November 2018 until February 2019.
"Reason and common sense would suggest that someone should have been checking on him based on what happened several weeks before."
The financier was housed in the facility's Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the Manhattan facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population. Correctional officers at the jail had reportedly worked extreme overtime shifts for days on end to compensate for staffing shortages.
Epstein was being held on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges after he was denied bail. Prosecutors said he sexually abused dozens of young girls in his New York and Florida residences between 2002 and 2005, to which Epstein pleaded not guilty.
He faced up to 45 years in prison.
Fox News' Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.