WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2019 (Gephardt Daily & UPI) — U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta turned in his resignation Friday as scrutiny continued to build over a controversial plea agreement he struck with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein back in 2008.
Acosta was serving as a federal prosecutor in Florida when Epstein, a globe-trotting billionaire, known to rub elbows with the likes of Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was charged with bringing under age girls to his home for sex.
The terms of the controversial plea agreement allowed Epstein — who was facing a possible life sentence — to serve just 13 months in prison. It also allowed him to work from home six days a week while serving his sentence.
The 2008 plea bargain was thrust back into the public spotlight earlier this week, when federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein, 66, with engaging in sex acts with girls as young as 14. They say he also used the teens to recruit other girls to be part of a sex-trafficking operation. Epstein has denied the charges.
In a Wednesday press conference, Acosta defended the 2008 plea agreement, saying he proceeded appropriately based on the evidence against Epstein, and that “there was value in getting a guilty plea and forcing Epstein to register” as a sex offender.
“I understand what the victims say,” Acosta said. “And I’m not here to say that I can stand in their shoes or that I can address their concerns. I’m here to say we did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. He needed to go to jail.”
Trump initially announced his support for Acosta, praising his work as labor secretary, while simultaneously distancing himself from Epstein, saying they had had a falling out years ago.
Friday, however, Trump made the abrupt announcement that Acosta was leaving his post. According to Trump, Acosta revealed his decision to step down in a Friday morning phone call, saying he did not want the issue to become a distraction for the Oval Office.