Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns after facing backlash for Epstein plea deal

US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Announces Resignation Over Jeffrey Epstein Affair

"I wasn't a big fan, and now if you look at the remnants, it hurt this man", Trump said, referring to Acosta. Still, the president thought Acosta, in his press conference Wednesday, had ably defended the actions taken by federal prosecutors.

Acosta had remained relatively unscathed as far as Trump cabinet members go, receiving far less scrutiny as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

"I don't think it's right or fair to have this administration's labor department have Epstein be the focus instead of the incredible economy we have today", Acosta said. Trump said Acosta relayed his decision in a phone call Friday morning. Under the terms of this deal, Epstein would spend just 13 months in jail, pay out settlements to victims, and would register as a sex offender.

Two days after Epstein registered, state officials reversed course because in his case state law at that time required registration only if the victim was under the age of 16.

Acosta was the USA attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 nonprosecution agreement with Epstein.

Two days after the financier was arrested in Jersey, he was charged with sexually abusing dozens of girls as well as sex trafficking minors.

Before he was named a US attorney, Acosta was an assistant attorney general for the civil rights division in President George W. Bush's first term. The department also plays a role in combatting human trafficking.

As labor secretary, Acosta's duties included overseeing human trafficking and worldwide child labor laws. This law requires prosecutors to inform victims of any plea deal and be involved in negotiations, which he failed to do. He said "We have an unbelievable economy", and great employment numbers.

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Pressed on whether he had any regrets, Acosta repeatedly said circumstances had changed since then. "He explained it. He made a deal people were happy with ... now they're not", Trump said from the lawn. "Today's world treats victims very, very differently", adding that "today, our judges do not allow victim-shaming by defense attorneys".

Mr Acosta had responded to the criticism on Tuesday by saying that Epstein's crimes were "horrific" and that he was glad prosecutors were moving forward based on new evidence and testimony that could "more fully bring him to justice". He has always been surrounded by the rich and powerful, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and the UK's Prince Andrew.

"I've known Jeff for 15 years", Trump said in a 2002 NY magazine article. At the time, the then-New York real estate mogul called "Jeff" a "terrific guy".

Trump has since tried to distance himself from Epstein. The reason doesn't make any difference ...

A residence of financier Jeffrey Epstein is shown in Palm Beach, Florida in a March 14, 2014, file photo.

Trump also announced Friday he was naming Patrick Pizzella as acting secretary - just the latest person to hold a top position in an "acting" capacity without going through Senate confirmation.

The Daily Beast has reported on a 2019 affidavit in which one of Epstein's accusers said he and an associate molested her 15-year-old sister at the Stanley ranch.

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