Labor Secretary Alex Acosta signed off on 2008 plea deal, being asked to resign
In 2008, the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, who was then the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, approved a secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to not be charged at the federal level for sex crimes. Federal charges had been considered based on reports that he had bought girls for sex across state lines.
In light of the latest allegations, calls for his resignation from his current post have been mounting from prominent Democrats. Speaking from the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer demanded Acosta step down.
"It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta's ability to lead the Department of Labor. If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him," Schumer said.
Writing in The Atlantic Tuesday, Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, said that the deal Epstein got over a decade ago was extremely lenient.
"Epstein’s team secured the deal of the millennium, one utterly unlike anything else I’ve seen in 25 years of practicing federal criminal law. Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges, register as a sex offender, and spend 13 months in county jail, during which time he was allowed to spend 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, out of the jail on 'work release,'" he explained.
"In exchange, the Southern District of Florida abandoned its criminal investigation of Epstein’s conduct, agreed not to prosecute him federally, and — incredibly — agreed not to prosecute anyone else who helped him procure underage girls for sex. This is not normal; it is astounding."
Yet Tuesday, the labor secretary defended his actions and noted the new evidence in the latest charges.
"The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence," Acosta tweeted Tuesday.
"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 said.
"Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice."