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Photo altered to include judge who approved Mar-a-Lago warrant

August 16, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: A photo shows Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein who was convicted of sex trafficking, with U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart, the judge who approved the FBI search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Altered photo. This image has been manipulated by combining two separate, unrelated photos. The photo of Maxwell was released in 2021 as evidence in her trial. The photo of Reinhart was published in 2017 on a publicly accessible Facebook page under his name.

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing the manipulated image that puts Reinhart and Maxwell together, making it appear she is rubbing his foot as he holds a bottle of bourbon and package of Oreos.

“Ghislaine Maxwell and Judge Bruce Reinhart… looking awful cozy!” read one tweet of the image shared by hundreds.

But reverse image searches show that the original photo of Maxwell was with Epstein, not Reinhart. That photo was released in 2021 as evidence in her trial and published by various news outlets. Maxwell was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison for helping Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.

The Associated Press identified the photo of Reinhart on a Facebook profile under his name. The caption indicates he was watching a football game.

The manufactured image is circulating amid attention on Reinhart for approving the FBI search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Reinhart is a former federal prosecutor and has served as a magistrate in West Palm Beach, Florida, since March 2018.

Reinhart did at one point represent associates of Epstein. For example, court records reviewed by the AP show he was an attorney for Sarah Kellen, Epstein’s personal assistant.

The search at Mar-a-Lago was part of an investigation into whether Trump took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, according to people familiar with the matter, the AP reported.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.