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Labor secretary under fire for Epstein deal

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 7/10/19, 11:10 am

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta is facing calls for his resignation this week for his role in the once-secret plea bargain agreement that allowed billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to avoid federal prosecution and spend only 13 months in jail despite allegations that he molested numerous teenage girls. Acosta served as a federal prosecutor in South Florida in 2008 when the deal was made. Epstein was arrested in New York on Saturday and pleaded not guilty to new charges of operating a sex trafficking ring that targeted underage girls.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have said Acosta should resign or be fired. Schumer called the plea bargain “obscene,” adding, “The first thing I’ve called for is that the Office of Professional Responsibility make public their documentation. It’s a major mystery to everybody as to what has happened.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he felt “very badly” for Acosta, adding that he’s “very good” at his job. But he also said the White House would look “very closely” at Acosta’s handling of Epstein’s case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Acosta “serves at the pleasure of the president, and I’m inclined to defer to the president to make that decision.”

Acosta tweeted Tuesday that he is “pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.” At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, he defended how he handled the Epstein case, saying he got the best deal he could at the time, which led to Epstein pleading guilty to two state prostitution-related charges. Acosta noted that state authorities had planned to go after Epstein with charges that would have resulted in no jail time until his office intervened and pressed for tougher consequences. “We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail,” he told reporters. “That was the focus.”

Two of Epstein’s victims on Tuesday again asked a federal judge in Florida to throw out the 2008 plea deal. The judge found the Justice Department violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by not consulting Epstein’s victims about a nonprosecution agreement. The Justice Department and Epstein say the agreement must stand. On Wednesday, NBC News aired an interview with a woman who claimed Epstein raped her when she was 15. Jennifer Araoz said an associate of Epstein’s recruited her outside her high school in 2001 to visit him at his mansion and give him massages, which led to her assault a year later. Araoz’s accusations are not included in the latest criminal complaint against Epstein.

Editor’s note: We updated this report to include Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s comments during his news conference Wedesday afternoon.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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  • GMR
    Posted: Wed, 07/10/2019 01:21 pm

    Why would we EVER remove the Ten Commandments from our public places except that we do not want to live by them?

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Wed, 07/10/2019 04:18 pm

    He was not jailed for 13 months because of “allegations.” He pleaded guilty to charges but worked out a shady plea deal to allow him to avoid the life sentence he could have been eligible for. They are not “allegations” when the accused has been convicted in a court of law. 

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Wed, 07/10/2019 06:00 pm

    Thank you. Our wording was not clear. Epstein had a short jail sentence despite the allegations of numerous underage girls for which he was not convicted, hence the controversy. Instead, he pled guilty in 2008 to two state prostitution charges, which we now note later in the report.

    Posted: Wed, 07/10/2019 04:46 pm

    Schumer and Pelosi MUST CLEAN THEIR HOUSE BEFORE they begin pointing their finger at miscreants in someone else's house. The DEMS are bulging at the seams with miscreants. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 07/11/2019 03:15 pm

    The focus on the plea deal is a side issue. I suspect this is being pushed to the forefront to distract us from prominent people who may have been participants with Epstein in sexual abuse. 

    One news outlet is reporting a large number of recordings found in a vault in Epstein’s mansion, which may be secret videos of well-known people in sexual situations with underage girls.

    It’s also speculated that Epstein’s wealth can not be accounted for by his investment activities. The question that has arisen, does Epstein’s wealth actually come from blackmail? may or may not ever be answered. 

    My guess is that all of this is likely to simply disappear from public view as the media and law enforcement realize they “need” to protect certain prominent persons.

    I certainly don’t believe all those who could be involved are liberals or Democrats. But exposing anyone in this case runs the risk of exposing all. 

  •  Deb O's picture
    Deb O
    Posted: Sat, 07/13/2019 09:05 am

    The Miami Herald's expose´ of this case shows the depth and breadth of just what Epstein and his inner circle got away with in the original plea deal. You may be right, Old Mike, that there could be many who want to see this stay buried, but I pray it ALL see the light of day.

    This is not a #metoo witch hunt. Hundreds of girls, now women, were victimized. And now he's been arrested on new charges. Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Alan Dershowitz were alleged partiers along with him in the original case. Who and how many will be named now.