President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, July 12, 2019, before Trump boards Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. and then on to Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Trump's Labor Secretary Acosta exits

17 Comments
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and DEB RIECHMANN

Adding to the lengthy list of departures from President Donald Trump's Cabinet, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said Friday he's stepping down amid the tumult over his handling of a 2008 secret plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing underage girls.

Trump, with Acosta at his side, said Friday he did not ask his secretary to leave and "I hate to see this happen." The president, who publicly faults the news media almost daily, said Acosta put the blame there, too.

Acosta "informed me this morning that he felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in, and he graciously tendered his resignation," Trump tweeted later in the day.

Trump said Patrick Pizzella, deputy secretary since April 2018, would succeed Acosta on an acting basis.

Pizzella served in the administrations of Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. A coalition of civil rights, human rights, labor and other groups opposed his nomination by Trump to the department's No. 2 slot, citing Pizzella's record on labor rights.

Acosta was the U.S. attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 non-prosecution agreement that allowed Epstein to avoid federal trial but plead guilty to state charges and serve 13 months in jail. Similar charges filed against Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York this week had put Acosta's handling of the 2008 agreement with the now-jailed financier back in the spotlight.

Years ago, Epstein had counted Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his friends, but Trump said this week he was "not a fan."

Acosta said he didn't want his involvement in Epstein's case to overshadow the president's agenda and said his resignation would be effective next week.

"My point here today is we have an amazing economy, and the focus needs to be on the economy," he said.

Top Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates had demanded that Acosta resign. But Acosta had defended his actions, insisting at a news conference Wednesday that he got the toughest deal on Epstein that he could at the time.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said he should never have been appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. "Thank God he's gone," she said

Acosta had also frustrated some conservatives who wanted him gone long before the Epstein uproar. Among their objections were his decisions to proceed with several employment discrimination lawsuits and to allow certain Obama administration holdovers to keep their jobs.

His resignation extends record turnover at the highest levels of Trump's administration, with acting secretaries at key departments, including the Pentagon and Homeland Security. Roughly two-thirds of the Cabinet has turned over by the two-and-a-half year mark of Trump's term.

Only the departments of Treasury, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture continue with the leaders that were first confirmed.

The high rate of turnover also extends to the White House, where 76% of those given the title of "assistant to the president" in Trump's first year had left by the beginning of July 2019, according to Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project. The percentages were substantially lower under Obama (61, Bush (50%) and Clinton (42%), according to Kumar's research.

Epstein, 66, reached the plea deal in Florida in 2008 to secretly end a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed him behind bars for life. He instead pleaded guilty to Florida state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and registered as a sex offender.

A federal judge has said Acosta violated federal law by keeping Epstein's victims in the dark about the plea arrangement, and the Justice Department has been investigating. The deal came under scrutiny earlier this year after reporting by The Miami Herald.

Trump had defended Acosta earlier this week while saying he'd look "very closely" at his handling of the 2008 agreement.

Acosta had attempted to clear his name and held a news conference — encouraged by Trump — to defend his actions. In a 50-plus-minute lawyerly rebuttal, he argued his office had secured the best deal it could and had worked in the best interests of Epstein's victims.

"We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail," he said.

Pressed on whether he had any regrets, Acosta repeatedly said circumstances had changed since then.

"We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world," he said. "Today's world treats victims very, very differently."

After federal attorneys in New York announced the new charges against Epstein this week, Acosta tweeted that he was pleased by their decision.

"The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific," Acosta tweeted. "Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice."

Acosta took office as the nation's 27th labor secretary in early 2017, leading a sprawling agency that enforces more than 180 federal laws covering about 10 million employers and 125 million workers. The department also plays a role in combatting human trafficking.

Before he was named a U.S. attorney, Acosta was an assistant attorney general for the civil rights division in President George W. Bush's first term. Before joining the Trump administration, he was dean of the Florida International University law school.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


17 Comments
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Adios to another Trump loser.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

No biggie, he was a moderate anyway, most GOP lawmakers felt he was a bit sketchy anyway.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The president, who publicly faults the news media almost daily, said Acosta put the blame there, too.

Trump's again doing what he can to undermine a free, for-profit press IF they don't laud him, while he's got other media outlets (in the US and 'abroad') praising everything he does and says, even if they know it's a flat out lie.

secret plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, 

The uber rich are different from us: they're protected by their own caste and can make 'secret plea deals'.

'Laws are for peasants' (har har), as Trump and his fellow elite know full well. No wonder Trump/McConnell etal want to stack courts at all levels.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The uber rich are different from us: they're protected by their own caste and can make 'secret plea deals'.

The real difference is that even if your former lovers decided that their nether regions were worth a million dollars 15 years ago, we could not pay out.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

No biggie, he was a moderate anyway, most GOP lawmakers felt he was a bit sketchy anyway.

Hilarious.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Trump and Epstein go together like pickle and cheese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hah! Another one of "the best" go down in flames when one of their past miscreant misdeeds is brought to light.

Trump - Epstein - Acosta: P___ Grabber - Child Molester - Enabler...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hah! Another one of "the best" go down in flames

Men of every stripe are going down in flames. And yes, we are losing the best to this crappola from females too. Remember Al Franken? The acursed female that went out of her way to sink him is not running for President. I have to admit, it did warm my heart a little to see so many people on other web sites ripping into her for that. But anyway, its a war on men and men need to stop cheering when the other team gets burned by it because our team is going to get it too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He protected a sexual predator wonder what he got in exchange at the time...good to see the best of the best are always on team Trump....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trump and Epstein go together like pickle and cheese.

Actually, Bill and Epstein are close buddies, Trump according to multiple sources hadn’t spoken with Epstein for over 15 years, even had to have him escorted off his property. This story breaks out and then all of a sudden within the same day Bill Clinton issued a statement saying he knew nothing and had nothing to do with this.....very odd indeed and flight records show that Bill Clinton was 27 times on Epstein’s plane.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Trump, Cavanaugh, Lacosta, Epstein, etc.

Rapists, pedophiles, molesters,

Apparently one of the credentials to enter politics these days is to be a sexual deviant of one sort or another.

It's like:

"Oh, I see here that you were involved in a rape" "No, just questioned but not convicted (nudge-nudge, wink, wink)." "Well, then you're just the man we've been looking for for this job! You'll make a wonderful Supreme Court Justice! Congratulations!"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Trump, Cavanaugh, Lacosta, Epstein

Kennedy, Roosevelt, Anthony Wiener, Martin Luther King Jr, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Hillary Clinton (defending a guilty pedophile with dirty tricks), Bill Clinton,.......

LOL

Get a grip.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"I've known Jeff (Epstein) for 15 years. He's a terrific guy." . . . Donald Trump

And then Trump goes on to say something like: Epstein likes women almost as much as I do and many of them are on the younger side.

Does anybody care to place a bet that Trump was at one of Epstein's rape parties?

I hope Epstein spills his guts out to the FBI and I don't care what political party they belong to.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's Lolita Express 6 times. Trump didn't fly on it. Oh my.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

As I stated, I don't care which party they represent. The only ones who seem to get upset about this are the Trumpsters.

Let the chips fall where they may!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As I stated, I don't care which party they represent. The only ones who seem to get upset about this are the Trumpsters.

That’s because liberals are so desperate to try and nail this guy and they won’t put anything past them. But this will probably be another wasted endeavor as with everything else.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

No biggie, he was a moderate anyway, most GOP lawmakers felt he was a bit sketchy anyway

He did protect pedophiles.

Since he didn’t call for killing of immigrants, that probably makes him a moderate for the haters!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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