Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned after a week of criticism of his role in a 2008 plea deal with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
President Trump told reporters at the White House that Acosta called him on Friday morning announcing his resignation.
He also said that it was Acosta’s decision to quit, not the president’s.
“I do not think it is right and fair for this administration’s labor department to have Epstein as a focus, rather than the incredible economy that we have today,” Acosta said standing next to Trump.
“I told [the president] I thought the right thing was to step aside.”
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta: "I called the president this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside…It would be selfish for me to stay in this position…I submitted my resignation to the president…" pic.twitter.com/nxLqu7fe83
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 12, 2019
The resignation comes two days after Acosta held a press conference in which he defended an agreement he made as the top federal prosecutor in Miami, and said he was “pleased” prosecutors were moving forward against Epstein, who was arrested on July 6 on charges of sex-trafficking.
The politically-connected Epstein, whose friends have included Trump and former President Bill Clinton, allegedly “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes” in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, according to an indictment.
The Miami Herald reports that Acosta’s team struck a deal with Epstein that concealed the number and extent of his crimes from his victims.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes…
As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it.
Earlier this week, Acosta tweeted that Epstein’s crimes were “horrific.”
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.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019