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12 Jul, 2019 13:51

Alexander Acosta stepping down as Labor secretary amid scrutiny of his handling of Epstein plea deal

Alexander Acosta stepping down as Labor secretary amid scrutiny of his handling of Epstein plea deal

US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta will step down from his position, just days after holding a press conference to defend a plea deal he helped to obtain for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as a US attorney over ten years ago.

President Donald Trump announced the resignation at the White House on Friday morning, with Acosta at his side. The president said he left the decision up to the secretary, and lauded him as a “great labor secretary, not a good one.”

I thought the right thing was to step aside,” Acosta said.

Acosta has stood by his involvement in the 2007 Epstein case, in which he brokered a plea deal for the accused, but a federal judge ruled in February that the former prosecutor violated the law by failing to notify Epstein’s victims of the terms of the deal. Democratic critics of the Trump administration have since called for his resignation.

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The secretary “must step down” because “he engaged in an unconscionable agreement” with Epstein, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said last week. She was joined by the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who also demanded Acosta step down.

In a series of tweets attempting to address the criticisms, the now-former labor secretary said he was “pleased” to learn authorities were going ahead with another investigation of Epstein, who was arrested again on July 6 for sex trafficking and exploitation of minors, and pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday.

“Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice,” Acosta said. 

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Epstein, a billionaire New York financier, was first convicted of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old in 2008, for which he served 13 months in custody. some of which was spent on work release, the plea deal secured for him by Acosta ensured his indictment was sealed, and that proceedings would no go forward to investigate 36 other potential victims identified by the FBI.

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