Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is resigning from his post after publically defending a plea agreement he cut with wealth investor Jeffrey Epstein for sex abuse charges over a decade ago.
President Donald Trump, with Acosta at his side, made the announcement as he left the White House for a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio. The president said Acosta had been a “great” labor secretary.
“I hate to see this happen,” the president said. He said he did not ask Acosta to leave the Cabinet.
Acosta said his resignation would be effective in seven days. Acosta said he didn’t think it was right for his handling of Epstein’s case to distract from his work as secretary of labor.
“My point here today is we have an amazing economy and the focus needs to be on the economy job creation,” Acosta said.
Acosta was the U.S. attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 non-prosecution agreement Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein avoided federal charges, plead guilty to state charges and served 13 months in jail. Similar charges recently filed against Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York had put Acosta’s role in the 2008 deal under renewed scrutiny.
President Trump initially defended Acosta and said he would look “very closely” his handling of the 2008 agreement.
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. He instead pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and is a registered sex offender.
Acosta held a news conference to defend his actions. In a 50-plus-minute lawyerly rebuttal, Acosta argued his office had secured the best deal it could at the time and was working in the victims’ best interests.
“We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail,” he said, refusing to apologize for his actions. “We believe that we proceeded appropriately.”
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