US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is resigning amid criticism of his brokering of a plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein in a child sex case.
Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has announced he is resigning. Acosta made the announcement himself, accompanying the president out of the White House residence before the president’s departure for a trip to Milwaukee.
On Friday, The announcement was made by Mr. Acosta, a former prosecutor from the white house Lawn with President Donald Trump by his side.
Democrats had called for him to resign over his handling of the Epstein case.
Mr. Acosta had been defending the plea deal in a news conference only two days ago
President Trump told reporters that the two had spoken on the phone earlier on Friday morning and said it was entirely Acosta’s decision.
Mr. Acosta was the US Attorney in Miami in 2008 when he oversaw a non-prosecution deal against Epstein which allowed him to serve 13 months in jail – with much of that spent on work release at his Palm Beach office.
Mr. Acosta was “a tremendous talent” who “went to Harvard” University, Mr. Trump said, “This was him not me,” he added. Mr. Trump told reporters earlier this week that he felt bad for his labor secretary, but added that he did not know him personally before hiring him.
“I do not think it is right and fair… to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today,” Mr. Acosta told reporters.
“It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that’s 12 years old.” He added:
“I wanted to help them,” Mr. Acosta said of the 36 victims identified in the case against Epstein, during the hour-long press conference at the labor department on Wednesday.
“That is why we intervened,” he said. “And that’s what the prosecutors of my office did – they insisted that he go to jail and put the world on notice that he was and is a sexual predator.”
Alex Acosta On Wednesday gave an unemotional, legalistic defense of his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case, more than a decade ago. It wasn’t enough to save his job. Given how quickly he departed after his performance, it wasn’t even close.
The US former attorney attempted to transfer blame to state prosecutors and justify his decisions based on changing expectations in sex crimes cases. He never adequately explained why the circumstances at the time required that he offer such a lenient deal to Epstein or seals the damning details of the original indictment, instead of building a stronger case with further investigation.
The Epstein case is a perfect storm of scandal and outrage. It mixes allegations of sex crimes with abuse of power and influence reaching into the highest corridors of US political and financial power.
With his departure, the number of temporary, “acting” Cabinet-level positions in the Trump administration now stands at four out of 11. The level of churn in his administration, whether through scandal, burn-out or presidential disfavor, is extraordinary.
In his resignation letter to the president, Acosta called his role at the Labor Department “the honor of a lifetime.”
“It has meant so much to me that you have offered your steadfast support in your private discussions and in your public remarks,” Acosta wrote. “My resignation from this position will not diminish my support for you and your agenda. I believe you have done an incredible job and have the right vision for our nation by putting working American families at the center of your presidency.”
Patrick Pizzella, deputy labor secretary, will take over as acting secretary.