Labor Secretary Acosta resigning amid Epstein deal scrutiny

Erika Holt
July 13, 2019

She spoke hours after Trump hailed Acosta as a "great" labor secretary, and expressed sympathy for Acosta's predicament of being questioned about the deal he reached, comparing it to his own struggles negotiating deals with Democrats.

Acosta made the announcement in Washington outside the White House on July 12 around 9:34 a.m., standing next to President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump had called Mr Acosta an "excellent" Labor Secretary while saying that many people were involved in decisions on Epstein's case and that the matter was being reviewed.

After federal attorneys in NY announced the new charges against Epstein this week, Acosta tweeted that he was "pleased" by their decision.

Jeffrey Epstein, a multi-millionaire businessman who has socialized with President Bill Clinton, was charged with luring teenage girls to his Palm Beach mansion for sex but received a lenient punishment under a plea deal that Acosta negotiated in 2008 when he was a US attorney. He pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served 13 months in jail during which he was allowed to leave six days a week to go to work.

It also includes grounding his private jets and promising not to apply for any new passports. Acosta explained to reporters that prosecutors took this approach because the agreement negotiated with Epstein had "an unusual provision", in that it would require Epstein to pay victims restitution. That was a violation of law, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra determined.

They said in court papers Friday that he paid a total of $350,000 to two individuals, including a former employee, shortly after a published report previous year revealed a secret deal that helped him avoid federal prosecution.

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But Acosta had frustrated some conservatives who had been pushing for his ouster long before the Epstein uproar.

The former U.S. attorney attempted to shift blame to state prosecutors and justify his decisions based on changing expectations in sex crimes cases.

He backed his argument with affidavits from a government lawyer and an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who worked on the case.

The official emphasized that Acosta was not popular within the White House to begin with, given the grumblings over his perceived lack of enthusiasm for the President's deregulatory agenda. "My point here today is we have an incredible economy and the focus needs to be on the economy job creation".

"Today's world treats victims very, very differently". "Today's world understands that when interviewing victims, when eliciting testimony, that testimony can be sometimes contradictory, that memories are hard".

President Trump had initially defended Mr Acosta, but said he would look "very closely" his handling of the 2008 agreement.

"I can tell you that for two and a half years he's been just an excellent secretary of labor, he's done a fantastic job". Earlier this week, Mr Trump told reporters that he felt badly for his labour secretary, but added that he did not know him personally before hiring him.

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