I realize there are more important news stories in the world to write about this evening, but —-

You know what? Let’s not even pretend.

There’s nothing more important than The Case Of The Fry-Guzzling Pedo Procurer.

Out: Wondering if there’s a Clinton angle to Epstein’s death. In: Wondering if there’s a Clinton angle to Maxwell being photographed at an Orange County In-n-Out.

The first picture of Ghislaine Maxwell in more than three years was staged by her close friend and attorney, Leah Saffian, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively…

The In-N-Out burger joint picture was published by the New York Post on Thursday after they obtained it from Saffian, 60…

According to the photograph’s metadata, reviewed by DailyMail.com, the photograph is tagged with ‘Meadowgate’. Metadata provides information about the rights of the photograph to users.

Saffian is president of Meadowgate Media Investments Inc, according to public records.

The clincher? The dog sitting at Maxwell’s feet in the photo that was taken of her from the side (which is featured at the Daily Mail link up top) appears to be Saffian’s own dog, Dexter. You can fashion an innocent explanation for that if you like — maybe she’s staying with Saffian, who lives in California, and took the dog out for a walk and lunch — but how did “Meadowgate” end up in the metadata? Remember, according to the Post, the photo was supposedly taken “by an eagle-eyed diner at the burger joint” who’s “at In-N-Out every single day.” Allegedly Maxwell was dining alone, too. It’s not like Saffian was there and bought the rights to the photos from some guy on the spot.

We have enough now to formulate a theory. Maxwell and Saffian wanted to throw the public off Maxwell’s trial by creating the false impression that she’s in L.A. So they engineered a meet-cute incident in which Maxwell is spotted and photographed out in the wild in Orange County by some observant bystander who’s following the Epstein story. (Supposedly she even admits who she is to the bystander, which would be insanely dangerous given what she’s accused of.) In order to make sure people believe the photo is contemporaneous, they photoshop the poster for a film that’s currently in theaters into the background. Suddenly, the recent reports that Maxwell has been hiding out in Massachusetts vanish, replaced by the news that she’s chilling in California, carefree enough to drop by the local fast-food joint for some lunch in the middle of the day.

They even added the cheeky detail in leaking the photos to the Post that she was reading a book about the mysterious deaths of CIA operatives, an allusion to the theories floating around (and reportedly advanced by none other than Alex Acosta) that Epstein was some sort of intelligence asset.

So we have a who, a what, a where, a why, and a how. But … not a when. When were the photos actually taken? My guess is that they’re old, possibly taken by Saffian herself during a trip with Maxwell to In-n-Out years ago. (That would also explain why there were two drinks on the table.) Hence the need to photoshop in a movie poster to date the pics to this month. Maxwell might have asked Saffian to see if she had any photos of her saved from their visits together when they were out in public, where the location might be discernible, and to put those out to the media as a red herring about where she was. That’s the only logical explanation for why Saffian’s dog is included, as the dog made it easy for the Daily Mail to link the pics back to Saffian. Plus, if the photos were taken recently, it’d make no sense to put Maxwell at risk of being accosted by angry bystanders by having her linger at a crowded place like an In-n-Out. If she were free to move about with a photographer, it’d be easier and safer to just drive around, find a street with something in the background that identifies the approximate date (like a movie poster), and then hop out and stage a scene of her walking. That could be done in 30 seconds with no photoshop required and minimal risk to Maxwell of being spotted, then passed off to a newspaper as if it were a cell phone pic taken by some rando who happened to recognize her in passing.

Wherever she is, she must be afraid to travel and show her face in public. Good.