US Labor Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein plea deal scrutiny

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 13, 2019

He was the US attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 nonprosecution agreement with Epstein. "He will be replaced on an acting basis by Pat Pizzella, the current Deputy Secretary".

Top Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates had demanded that Acosta resign.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned.

"He's done a fantastic job", Trump said. He's a friend of everybody in the Administration.

But he added: "It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 years old".

"He made a deal that people are happy with, and then 12 years later, they're not happy with it".

Trump said Acosta initiated the resignation by calling him Friday morning and saying he felt he had become a distraction to the administration.

"I am calling on Sec". He then went on to list Acosta's great qualities, saying, bizarrely, "He's a tremendous talent. He's a Hispanic man; he went to Harvard".

"It shows you one thing. You're just about done with the 401k and that happened", he continued.

"I do not think it is fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as its focus rather than the incredible economy we have today", Acosta said.

In his resignation letter to the president obtained by CBS News, Acosta called his role at the Labor Department "the honor of a lifetime".

After federal attorneys in NY announced the new charges against Epstein this week, Acosta tweeted that he was "pleased" by their decision. A federal probe of an alleged sex trafficking operation involving underage girls was brought to a close, while Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges involving a single victim.

Prosecutors did not inform Epstein's victims about the arrangement. Still, the president thought Acosta, in his press conference Wednesday, had ably defended the actions taken by federal prosecutors. "We believe that we proceeded appropriately".

"Instead of prosecuting a predator and serial sex trafficker of children, Acosta chose to let him off easy", he said.

He said a state's attorney in Palm Beach County was preparing to allow Epstein to plead to a single charge of solicitation that did not make a reference to the age of the female minor. Epstein served 13 months in jail with leave during the day and registered as a sex offender.

Acosta has denied any wrongdoing, but the lenient plea deal gave rise to complaints that Epstein was granted favorable treatment because of his wealth and social connections.

The Epstein case came up Acosta's Senate confirmation hearing but the Republican-majority Senate approved him in a 60-38 vote. He blamed Epstein's victims-36, on the record, some with signed statements backed up by a 53-page indictment-for being unable to stand up to testifying in court, as if it weren't 2008 but, say, 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Salem Witch Trials-when girls would be slut-shamed on the stand. "There is a value to a short guilty plea, because letting him walk.would have been absolutely bad".

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