Embroiled in Epstein controversy, Trump's labor secretary steps down

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

Acosta appeared on Friday at the White House with President Trump and announced his resignation, according to a pool note circulated to correspondents. So for an hour, Acosta basically said nothing. A coalition of civil rights, human rights, labor and other groups opposed his nomination by Trump to the department's No. 2 slot, citing Pizzella's record on labor rights.

The federal prosecutors in NY said they were not bound by the deal arranged by Mr Acosta, which allowed Mr Epstein to plead to a lesser offence and serve 13 months in jail with leave during the day while registering as a sex offender. As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. I haven't seen that workplace injuries are down, bucking a three-year trend.

Acosta was under fire for negotiating a deal that allowed Epstein to get out of country jail after just 13 months and get to take part in work release at his office. The office is interviewing people who say they were victims of Epstein and plans to forward any evidence to federal authorities, spokesman Matt Baca said in an emailed statement.

Several Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, had called on Acosta to resign.

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

Trump also praised Acosta as a "tremendous talent". Roughly two-thirds of the Cabinet has turned over by the two-and-a-half year mark of Trump's term.

Epstein, 66, reached the deal to secretly end a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed him behind bars for life. Epstein avoided federal charges and served 13 months in jail.

The deal, which many called "lenient", first came under scrutiny after the Miami Herald published a lengthy feature piece about what it dubbed the "deal of a lifetime" in November 2018.

Trump defended Acosta's role as labor secretary on July 9, saying he has been "really, really great". This law requires prosecutors to inform victims of any plea deal and be involved in negotiations, which he failed to do.

Mr. Trump said people were initially happy with it, then changed their minds.

Democrat demands for his resignation were opportunistic attempts to connect Trump with Epstein, so the president arguably should not have forced the secretary to resign - but Acosta himself stepping down is the right move.

Trump called Acosta "a great Labor Secretary, not a good Labor Secretary", "a fantastic Secretary of Labor", and emphasized that "he's done a fantastic job". Just over a year later, he's had turnover in the departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Defense, Labor, and a number of lower agencies.

He was also previously the dean of the Florida International University School of Law.

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