President Donald Trump claimed to reporters at a NATO news conference in London on Tuesday that he didn’t “know” Prince Andrew, who has been forced to withdraw from royal duties amid the fallout from his association with the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
But photos and Trump’s past statements prove otherwise: He and Andrew, 59, have been seen together multiple times over the years. (Likewise, Trump, 73, has also been seen with Epstein, who famously ran in many powerful circles, rubbing elbows with the wealthy and politically influential, including former President Bill Clinton.)
Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth, recently stepped back from public after it was alleged he had sex with a minor trafficked to him by Epstein, which he “emphatically” denies, saying he’d never even met her.
Epstein, a disgraced American financier, killed himself in his jail cell in late August as he awaited trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
“I don’t know Prince Andrew, but it’s a tough story, it’s a very tough story,” President Trump told reporters on Tuesday.
That’s quite different from what he told PEOPLE in 2000, saying of Andrew then, “He’s not pretentious. He’s a lot of fun to be with.”
Trump and Andrew were photographed together as recently as June, when the president met with the royal for a breakfast meeting during his last visit to the U.K. The pair was photographed walking outside St. James Palace, where they also met with the U.K.’s then-prime minister, Theresa May.
Another photograph shows Trump with Andrew at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in 2000, along with First Lady Melania Trump, when she and the president were dating.
Trump also bragged in a 2018 interview that he played 18 holes of golf with Andrew and beat him, according to Tom Newton Dunn, editor at Britain’s The Sun, which Trump has spoken to repeatedly.
The Duke of York’s official Twitter account also shared photos of Trump and Andrew during their June breakfast meeting.
Andrew has been accused of having sex with a minor on multiple occasions, according to Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked to the Duke of York when she was 17.
“I implore the people in the U.K. to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being okay,” Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, told the BBC’s Panorama on Monday. “This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked. This is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty.”
“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein,” Prince Andrew said in a statement in late November when the he announced he was stepping back from his public duties as his relationship with Epstein had become a “major disruption” for the royal family, which dedicates much of its time to international charity work.
The palace has also said Andrew “deeply sympathizes with those affected who want some form of closure” but it “emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
In his own BBC interview last month, Andrew told journalist Emily Maitlis of Giuffre’s allegations, “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever. It just never happened.”
Trump previously said he’s known Epstein since the ’80s, calling him a “terrific guy” in a 2002 New York profile on Epstein.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump said then. “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.”