Hot Air

Hmmm: Prince Andrew vacationing domestically this year for some reason; Update: Labour leader urges Andrew to cooperate

The United Kingdom can be quite lovely in the summer, but it’s not a bout of homesickness that has caused Prince Andrew to cancel his summer plans abroad. The Sun reported late yesterday that Jeffrey Epstein’s years-long associate has decided not to travel to Spain as usual for a golfing holiday. A “palace insider” told their reporter that Andrew has become concerned that he might end up getting extradited to the US if he sets foot outside the UK, a fear that seems connected to the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell:

PRINCE Andrew has cancelled his annual Spanish golf holiday because he’s scared to go abroad during the Epstein investigation.

He stayed at a friend’s Costa del Sol mansion last year — days after paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell.

But a palace insider said Andrew, 60, has shelved this year’s trip as he is “nervous” of leaving the UK after the US Justice Department made an official request to question him as a witness about Epstein.

Andrew’s pretty convinced that “witness” isn’t what the feds have in mind, however, at least according to this source:

“They know they can’t extradite him. What they’re trying to do is get him over voluntarily and, if they think they’ve got enough evidence, charge him there.

“He’s not a witness, he’s a covert target of this operation.”

The palace insider said it’s “unlikely” Andrew will leave the UK for some time and will “never travel to the US again”.

Is Prince Andrew that smart? Given his choices in the past, I’d remain skeptical, especially after his disastrous BBC interview regarding Epstein. That was so spectacularly stupid that his mother booted Andrew out of the house — well, Buckingham Palace, but still — and Andrew had to publicly withdraw from his duties. In ages past, that would have prompted a voluntary exile, but with Maxwell arrested and potentially singing, that option has been foreclosed, probably forever.

One does have to wonder what this “palace insider” had in mind by leaking this, though. Is this someone who knows what Andrew is thinking? Or is it someone who has a better grip on what the rest of his family is thinking? According to a report from the New York Times, Andrew still wants to talk his way out of this — so much so that he tried to hire a lobbyist known for working for some pretty reprehensible clients. Hard pass, as it turns out:

Prince Andrew’s lawyers had discussions with a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Trump administration about the possibility of assisting the prince with fallout from his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Lawyers from the London-based firm Blackfords consulted the lobbyist, Robert Stryk, who represents international figures with sensitive legal or diplomatic issues, in recent weeks about Prince Andrew’s situation, according to a person familiar with the circumstances.

Mr. Stryk has a history of taking on clients with unsavory reputations. But he expressed discomfort about the possibility of assisting Prince Andrew, and talks about the potential representation appear to have fizzled, according to the person familiar with the situation.

Is Stryk picky? Er

This year alone, his firm has signed contracts to represent a jailed Saudi prince who had fallen out of favor with his country’s powerful de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, which the Trump administration considers illegitimate.

Mr. Stryk represents Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state oil company she once headed. And he had represented the government of the former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, which had faced American sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption.

The issue may not be moral as much as it is legal. Those clients may have committed crimes, but they didn’t do so in US jurisdiction. If the feds are coming after Prince Andrew for sex trafficking in underage girls, he might not want to get caught in the middle of a prosecution. The larger point here is that this “palace insider” might be less of a leak and more of a harbinger of what the palace wants from Andrew — internal exile, perhaps perpetual, rather than ongoing attempts to restore his position by working his connections.

But will Ghislaine Maxwell snitch on Andrew specifically? Page Six doesn’t think so, since Maxwell owed her lifestyle to Andrew’s support from the beginning:

Steven Hoffenberg, a former business associate of Epstein’s (and who temporarily managed the New York Post in 1993), said, “She’s going to be naming some big names — not only in terms of those who abused underage girls at Epstein’s parties — but also those who made financial agreements with Epstein or benefited from his generosity, including flying on his plane and staying at his homes.” …

“Ghislaine thought she was untouchable — that she’d be protected by the intelligence communities she and Jeffrey helped with information: the Israeli intelligence services, and Les Wexner, who has given millions to Israel; by Prince Andrew, President Clinton and even by President Trump, who was well-known to be an acquaintance of her and Epstein’s.”

But another Maxwell associate, Laura Goldman, believes she would protect Andrew and be more likely to talk about the others.

“Andrew helped launch Ghislaine into the New York social scene when she was nothing after the death of her father. She always saw him as a real friend.”

We’ll find out soon enough. Maxwell has yet to be arraigned in New York, but that will come later this week. Jazz will have more on that later, but the delay in arraignment might have something to do with cooperation offers and big decisions to be made by the defense. It’s safe to say that Andrew won’t be in position to be arrested or prosecuted unless he does something incredible stupid … which puts him at high risk, at least according to his lifelong patterns.

Update: The environment might not be much friendlier at home. Labour leader Keir Starmer tells a radio host that Prince Andrew should be cooperating with the FBI, and his reluctance to do so is strange:

“Of course he should cooperate with the US,” Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the UK’s opposition party, told LBC radio about repeated claims that the royal has refused to meet with investigators across the pond.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, you cooperate with the law enforcement authorities when they require you to do so,” the Labour Party leader said.

Starmer — who was the nation’s Director of Public Prosecutions — said the US used to seek assistance “all the time” from the UK, which “always cooperated.”

Asked if he was “disappointed” that Andrew, 60, has not cooperated, Starmer said, “Well, he will have to justify his own actions.”

He won’t if he doesn’t travel outside the UK. It’s inconceivable that any British government would extradite a member of the royal family, but that doesn’t mean Andrew will get a free ride at home, either. In fact, his brother Charles might have to answer for it if he inherits the throne, as expected.

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