Durbin Changes Course, Supports Efforts to Subpoena Epstein Records

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant policy reversal, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has announced his intention to support the procurement of subpoenas for records tied to the infamous sex trafficking operation led by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. This unexpected development was made public during a Congressional hearing on December 14, which was primarily focused on the disturbing intersection between America’s foster care system and child sex trafficking.

The announcement was delivered by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), chairman of the Human Rights subcommittee. He read aloud a note from Durbin, expressing his readiness to collaborate with Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on a bipartisan basis to secure the relevant records. Durbin’s decision comes after a week of intense criticism from Republicans, particularly Blackburn, who accused him of obstructing efforts to subpoena Epstein’s records.

Blackburn’s criticism of Durbin was not limited to the Epstein case. During the hearing, she expressed deep concern about the government’s handling of foster children, many of whom are found in both sex and labor trafficking operations. She called out the FBI’s continued refusal to release information related to Epstein’s operations, directly questioning FBI’s Deputy Director Jose Perez about the agency’s withholding of critical information.

The hearing also served as a platform to highlight the alarming state of foster care in the U.S. Ossoff presented data indicating a significant number of these children are ending up in trafficking rings. He further questioned Rebecca Jones Gaston, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), about the agency’s response to these troubling statistics.

Despite the grim picture painted by these revelations, there are ongoing efforts to combat child trafficking. Blackburn and Ossoff have joined forces to introduce a bill aimed at cracking down on the use of the internet by child traffickers. Known as The Report Act, it would establish a cyber tipline for social media platforms to report any evidence of child sexual exploitation. Failure to report such evidence would result in fines of up to $850,000.

The bipartisan measures introduced by Blackburn and Ossoff are a step towards addressing the systemic issues in America’s foster care system and the broader problem of child sex trafficking. However, the hearing made it clear that much work still needs to be done. The FBI’s refusal to release information on Epstein’s operations and the disturbing statistics on foster children in trafficking rings underscore the urgent need for more robust measures to protect children.

Durbin’s decision to support the subpoena efforts marks a major shift in the political landscape surrounding the Epstein case. It also highlights the importance of bipartisan cooperation in addressing complex issues such as child sex trafficking.