In the process of doing research for a 2003 piece on Jeffrey Epstein, Vanity Fair writer Vicky Ward had two women who were willing to go on record accusing the financier of having victimized them.

They weren’t printed in the eventual article because Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter either believed Epstein or didn’t feel the accusations met the magazine’s editorial standards, depending on whose account you have more faith in.

Even still, the strange piece that emerged from what Ward could discover about Epstein didn’t exactly paint a rosy picture.

“The Talented Mr. Epstein” painted a picture of an arrogant man with strange passions who had apparently made a lot of money even though no one had an idea how he had made it. It described, with telling subtext, how there were “many women in his life, mostly young, but there is no one of them to whom he has been able to commit.”

The article detailed parties attended by “plutocrats” and plenty of powerful friends, but what drew these individuals to him remained a big question mark.

This is a summary of a much longer piece, but the point is, this is what a Vanity Fair writer was able to find out doing several months of research in 2002 and 2003.

It was also after Epstein first surfaced on many people’s radar because Bill Clinton, fresh out of the White House, had traipsed around Africa on Epstein’s plane — now dubbed the “Lolita Express” for ferrying young girls to and fro for the world’s most infamous sex trafficker.

If this is what a reporter could discover, what, pray tell, do you think the Secret Service could have discovered about Epstein and what can charitably be called his lifestyle before Clinton boarded the “Lolita Express”?

Whatever they discovered, it wasn’t enough to dissuade Clinton from boarding, given the fact that we’re talking about the trip again.

This time, it’s because new photos have emerged of the former president with both a woman who accuses Epstein of sexually assaulting her and Epstein’s alleged procuress, Ghislaine Maxwell.

The photos, obtained by the U.K. tabloid The Sun, show Clinton with Maxwell as the two boarded the notorious 727 private jet that Epstein used.

In another photo, his arm is around Chauntae Davies, described as Epstein’s “personal masseuse.”

Davies, now 40, says she was one of Epstein’s sex slaves.

“It’s clear that Epstein was using this private jet and his wealth to get close to rich and powerful people,” she told The Sun.

“Looking back at these images now,” Davies said, “it raises a lot of questions about why Bill Clinton was using the plane and what perhaps Jeffrey may have been trying to accomplish by having him around.”

It’s worth noting that Davies said Clinton was a “complete gentleman,” and there’s no indication he engaged in any untoward behavior during the trip. She was in her early 20s at the time and said she had been sexually assaulted by Epstein on other trips.

Davies told The Sun that she was asked to leave for the Africa jaunt with less than a week’s notice.

“That was all I was told, just a simple yes or no and can I leave in a week?” she said. “Meaning, get all necessary shots, reschedule any existing appointments, pack a suitcase and meet us in New York to fly to Africa.

“It did weigh heavy on my mind the remoteness of being on the other side of the world with Jeffrey, not knowing what to expect from him.

“I was praying Jeffrey wouldn’t make a move on me, desperately wanting everything about this trip to be kept professional.”

She only found out on the tarmac in New York that she would be traveling with the former president.

Davies described an amicable enough trip: “Everybody cracked jokes at one another. Clinton was chiming in cracking jokes along with us, and we were all laughing and bonding over corny jokes,” she said.

“A movie was put on, everyone took either a seat in the giant armchairs or on the floor, and watched it all together. Eventually, everyone fell asleep to the movie.”

She describes bonding with Clinton over the fact that her great uncle was the chef at Blair House, the White House’s guest house during Clinton’s time in the White House. Davies said she helped Clinton pick out a bracelet for his daughter, Chelsea, at a wooden jewelry store in Ghana.

She also said that she hadn’t told anyone that Epstein was essentially treating her as a sex slave.

“I felt shamed by what had been happening with Jeffrey and I was doing my best acting performance to keep things looking as professional as I could,” she said.

“I had to cover it up for everyone. I still thought it was happening only to me and I couldn’t talk about it with any of the other assistants.”

This, again, is worth noting. Yes, she may have thought she was alone. It’s entirely possible — probable, in fact — the Secret Service didn’t know about what had happened to her. Plausible deniability is stretched, however, when it’s posited they had no idea about anything Jeffrey Epstein was doing.

Vicky Ward was able to discover, as a journalist, that this was not the kind of millstone a president needed to tie around his neck. The Secret Service, tasked with the protection of the president, couldn’t determine that?

No one is accusing Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct in this case. What we’re asking of him, instead, is something more than a pro forma statement.

What Clinton knew about Epstein — and when he knew it — has always been a question he’s needed to answer.

That’s even more true now that these pictures have emerged.