Hon. Bruce E. Reinhart, a U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida, was not photographed on an airplane receiving a foot massage from Jeffrey Epstein associate and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. The fake picture, which appeared to have been altered with Adobe Photoshop, originally showed Epstein receiving the massage, not Reinhart.
Politico published that it was Reinhart who “signed off on the warrant that allowed federal agents to search former President Donald Trump‘s Florida residence.” The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was conducted on Aug. 8, 2022.
The New York Times reported that the FBI’s goal of searching Trump’s estate was “to obtain information related to his handling of classified information.” This matter was “separate from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation,” the Times reported.
Social media users first shared the fake photograph in the days following the federal search of Trump’s property. It showed a watermark for a user named @what.i.meme.to.say.
Reuters reported that its fact-check team conducted a simple reverse image search, which showed that the original photograph featured Epstein, a convicted sex offender, not Reinhart. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York, according to an autopsy.
The inspiration to create the fake picture may have come from the fact that Reinhart once served as a “defense attorney on behalf of individuals connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein,” according to Politico. Citing the Miami Herald, Politico published that Reinhart once defended “pilots for Epstein, his scheduler, and a woman who had been described by some of Epstein’s victims as his sex slave.”
In sum, no, Reinhart was not photographed on an airplane while receiving a massage from Maxwell.
Bekiempis, Victoria. “Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Federal Sex Trafficking Crimes.” The Guardian, 8 July 2019. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/08/jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-charges-court.
Broadwater, Luke. “Search of Trump’s Florida Residence Signals Depth of Federal Investigation.” The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/08/09/us/trump-fbi-search-news.
Fineout, Gary. Judge Who Approved FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search Represented Clients Linked to Jeffrey Epstein. 9 Aug. 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/09/judge-mar-a-lago-epstein-00050739.
Hymes, Clare. Jury Finds Ghislaine Maxwell Guilty on Charges Tied to Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Trafficking Ring. CBS News, 30 Dec. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/ghislaine-maxwell-verdict-2021-12-29/.
Medical Examiner Confirms Epstein Death a Suicide by Hanging. 16 Aug. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2019/08/16/medical-examiner-confirms-epstein-death-a-suicide-by-hanging/.
Reuters Fact Check. “Fact Check-Image of Federal Magistrate Sitting across from Ghislaine Maxwell Is Digitally Altered.” Reuters, 11 Aug. 2022, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-maxwell-reinhart-idUSL1N2ZN2HC.
Trump Says FBI Searched Estate in Major Escalation of Probe. 9 Aug. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2022/08/09/trump-says-fbi-searched-estate-in-major-escalation-of-probe/.