Acosta Resigns After Harsh Criticism over Epstein Case
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced Friday morning that he was resigning from his government post.
This comes after Acosta has been harshly criticized for playing a part in a non-prosecution deal made years ago involving financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was recently charged with various sex crimes.
Acosta said on Friday while at the White House with President Donald Trump, “I do not think it is fair for this administration’s Labor Department to have Epstein as its focus rather than the incredible economy we have today. The right thing was to step aside.”
According to Acosta, he will leave the White House officially in one week.
Acosta had called President Trump earlier to inform him of his decision. Trump says the decision was entirely up to Acosta. Trump has said that Acosta is a fantastic Secretary of Labor and had “tremendous talent.”
However, Trump was one of the few to back Acosta and his position.
Many Democrats in Congress and the presidential election running have called for Acosta to either resign or be fired by Trump in recent days in light of his dealings with Epstein years ago.
In 2008, Jeffrey Epstein was brought in on similar sex crime charges in the state of Florida. At the time, Acosta was a federal attorney there, and his office had direct contact with the Epstein case. An agreement was made that Epstein would plead guilty to at least one of the related charges and would spend at least 13 months in jail.
However, he would be allowed to come and go for work, and he avoided a federal trial.
Acosta said in a recent news conference earlier this week that at the time this was the best that could be done, based on the evidence. He also said that if he and his office had not stepped in to handle the case, Epstein would have likely gotten an even more lenient sentence and punishment.
Acosta tweeted, “With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.”
He also said, “The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.”
However, in light of the new charges brought against Epstein, Democratic leaders say that Acosta was far too lenient and it puts into question his ability to lead in any government capacity.
The House Oversight Committee and its chairman Elijah Cummings even went so far as to “invite” Acosta to testify about his role in the 2008 plea deal. This is to take place on July 23rd. Cummings and other House Democrats have also written the Justice Department asking for a briefing about their investigation.
In the letter, they wrote, “There are significant concerns with Secretary Acosta’s action in approving an extremely favorable deal for an alleged sexual predator while concealing the deal from the victims of Mr. Epstein’s crimes, which a judge found violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.”
However, with Acosta no longer serving as a government official, it is unclear if he will still have to appear before the committee.
Others, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, have called for Acosta’s resignation. Pelosi tweeted on July 8 that he “engaged in an unconscionable agreement” with Epstein and that “this was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign.”
And while the president stood firm in his backing for Acosta and said “I do hear there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him,” he did say that he would look further into the details of the 2008 case.
President Trump tweeted Friday morning, “Alex Acosta informed me this morning that he felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in, and he graciously tendered his resignation…”
The White House has announced that Pattrick Pizzella, Acosta’s deputy, will become the acting secretary for the Department of Labor.