US Labor Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein plea deal scrutiny

While President Trump is due in Hunting Valley for a private campaign fundraiser Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is laboring to keep his job and explain the 2008 sweetheart deal he gave politically connected Jeffrey Epstein when facing sex trafficking

President Trump, who expressed support for Alex Acosta, said that Acosta made the decision himself to step down as secretary of Labor.

Last year, the Miami Herald published a blockbuster report accusing Acosta of treating Epstein leniently in the plea deal, which allowed the financier to serve just 13 months in prison and another year under house arrest, despite Federal Bureau of Investigation allegations against him of sexual abuse and the trafficking of nearly three dozen young women and girls, Sputnik reported. "It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that is 12 years old rather than the wonderful economy we have right now". "Not just him. I can only say this from what I know and what I do know is that he's been a great - really great secretary of labor".

Acosta responded to the criticism on Tuesday with tweets saying Epstein's crimes were "horrific" and that he was glad prosecutors were moving forward based on new evidence and testimony that could "more fully bring him to justice". He said he did not ask Acosta to leave the Cabinet.

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".

Acosta had attempted to clear his name, and on Wednesday held a news conference - encouraged by Trump - to defend his actions. "This was him, not me, because I'm with him", Trump said.

Epstein, a billionaire hedge fund manager, pleaded not guilty to new federal charges in NY this week.

It allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges, and instead serve 13 months in jail after pleading guilty to state charges including solicitation of prostitution (including one charge involving a minor under the age of 18). Epstein had a social circle that over the years has included Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta speaks about his involvement in a non-prosecution agreement with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has now been charged with sex trafficking in underage girls, during a news conference at the Labor Department in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2019.

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Still, he accompanied Acosta to announce the resignation to reporters today and he insisted-perhaps too heavily-that this was Acosta's idea.

According to the New York Times, the allegation was revealed in a new court filing in which "prosecutors said that Mr. Epstein had paid significant amounts of money to influence individuals who were close to him and who might be witnesses against him at trial".

Trump, who has previously described Epstein as a "terrific guy" who "likes handsome women", also attempted to distance himself from the financier, saying he was "not a fan" and that the two had a "falling out" years ago.

Patrick Pizzella, the current labour deputy secretary, will become acting secretary when Mr Acosta officially steps down in one week, Mr Trump said.

Epstein's wealth and alleged potential for witness tampering were just two of the government's arguments against the bail package proposed by Epstein's attorneys on Thursday. "Today's world treats victims very, very differently". "Mr. Acosta should not be allowed to rewrite history".

As labor secretary, Acosta's duties included overseeing human trafficking and global child labor laws. A bail hearing is scheduled for Monday morning.

"I feel power and influence obviously influenced the scales of justice", said Kirk Blouin, town manager of Palm Beach, Fla., who prior to his post served 29 years in the Palm Beach police department.

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