2019-07-12 12:31:541 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Alexander Acosta (Image: Public domain)
In just a matter of days Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has taken enough heat for his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case a decade ago when he was a prosecutor that he has decided to resign.
Donald Trump needs another empty seat in his administration like he needs another ex-wife, but nevertheless, he announced that Acosta called him Friday morning and informed him of his decision.
This week billionaire Epstein was indicted on new charges of running a child sex--trafficking ring. This brought up when he was previously charged in Miami for similar charges with 36 victims left in his wake.
As a U.S. attorney, Acosta offered him a deal of pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges, allowing him to spend just 13 months in jail, pay restitution, and register as a sex offender. It also shut down what was an ongoing FBI probe with potential co-conspirators.
He took over as Labor Secretary in Trump's Cabinet in April 2017, leaving his position at the time as dean of Florida International University College of Law where he'd been for eight years after leaving his position as U.S. attorney.
Before Trump left for a trip to Milwaukee and Cleveland, he faced reporters on the South Lawn of the White House with Acosta at his side and made the announcement, after being urged to fire him all week and being put in the position to defend him.
"This was him, not me," said Trump, who added that Acosta had been a "great, great secretary" and "tremendous talent." The president also felt the need to add that Acosta was "a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard, a great student."
This comes after congressional Democrats on Thursday demanded that the Justice Department provide a briefing about Acosta's deal not to prosecute Epstein.
Included in the deal was an agreement that federal prosecutors would notify Epstein's victims of the deal that was brokered, a step that is against the law.
The recent charges came after federal agents raided Epstein's mansion in New York and found lewd photographs of young girls. He is accused of working alongside his employees to run a sex-trafficking scheme to bring girls as young as 14 to his homes in New York and Palm Beach between 2002 and 2005.
If convicted, this time Epstein faces 45 years in prison.
Trump also repeated again that he cut ties with Epstein 15 or more years ago after they had a falling out. Yet, there is a 1994 lawsuit on the books with the claim that Trump and Epstein together raped a 13-year-old girl. This came out just before Trump was elected, but the accuser was not believed.
The Labor Department is now the fourth agency being led by an acting secretary, with Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella now assuming an acting role, according to Trump.
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