July 15, 2019
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said in a press conference on July 12 that he would resign, amid controversy over a hush-hush plea deal that he and his staff made with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, while Acosta was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
According to criminal justice sources in the Sunshine State, there was sufficient evidence at that time to prosecute Epstein for sexual assault against dozens of underage girls, but instead Acosta prearranged a pact with the alleged offender—and did not provide details of the settlement to complainants in the case.
Details of the slimy deal—which allowed Epstein to register as a sex offender, but to work in his office six days a week and only to sleep in jail for 13 months—resurfaced on July 6; when the politically connected Epstein, whose friends in high places have included Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested again on sex trafficking charges after he returned from France by private plane to the New York City metropolitan area.
Following the arrest, those same sources accused Acosta of “rewriting history” when he stated, “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the [Southern District of] New York prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”
As the story continued to garner headlines and outrage in the days after Epstein was taken into custody, President Trump remained steadfast in his support of his Labor Secretary, but leading Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren-—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—demanded that Acosta quit.
Acosta finally made the announcement on Friday morning to reporters while standing next to the president outside the White House, according to a report by CNBC. Trump said that Acosta had called him that morning, and that it was Acosta’s decision to quit.
“This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said in a lengthy exchange with the press before departing the White House en route to events in Wisconsin and Ohio, said CNBC. “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this.’”
Acosta told reporters that he did not want his involvement in Epstein’s controversy to overshadow the administration’s accomplishments. Acosta said he will officially resign a week after his announcement; Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take his place in an acting capacity, Trump said.
According to the CNBC report, Epstein is accused of luring dozens of underage girls to his Manhattan mansion to give him massages that escalated into sex acts. He is charged in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
Epstein had long been under investigation by both federal and local law enforcement for sex crimes against underage girls that took place from 2002 to 2005 in New York and Florida.
Research contact: @CNBC