The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use…

When I later reflected on our interview, I was struck by how little information Mr. Epstein had actually provided. While I can’t say anything he said was an explicit lie, much of what he said was vague or speculative and couldn’t be proved or disproved. He did have at least some ties to Mr. Musk — a widely circulated photo shows Mr. Musk with Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s confidante and former companion, at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscars party. But it seemed clear Mr. Epstein had embellished his role in the Tesla situation to enhance his own importance and gain attention — something that now seems to have been a pattern.

About a week after that interview, Mr. Epstein called and asked if I’d like to have dinner that Saturday with him and Woody Allen. I said I’d be out of town. A few weeks after that, he asked me to join him for dinner with the author Michael Wolff and Donald J. Trump’s former adviser, Steve Bannon. I declined. (I don’t know if these dinners actually happened. Mr. Bannon has said he didn’t attend. Mr. Wolff and a spokeswoman for Mr. Allen didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday.)