Embattled Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, who came under fire this week over a decade-old plea deal with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, is resigning, President Donald Trump said Friday.
Epstein, 66, was arrested over the weekend and charged in the Southern District of New York with sex trafficking dozens of girls, some as young as 14, in New York and Florida. That arrest brought new scrutiny to the earlier plea agreement, which has been widely criticized as too lenient.
Trump told reporters that the decision for Acosta to quit “was him, not me” and praised him as a “tremendous talent.”
In the earlier case, in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution, which required him to register as a sex offender and serve about a year in a Florida county jail. He was able to leave the jail almost daily for work, and was allowed to have his own private security detail behind bars.
Acosta, who was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time of the original Epstein criminal case, has faced calls from Democrats to resign his Cabinet post following the latest Epstein charges.
Acosta’s office reached the secret non-prosecution deal in 2008 with the wealthy financier to halt the federal sex abuse investigation involving dozens of teenage girls in return for Epstein pleading guilty to lower state charges involving a single victim.
The latest charges against Epstein, however, allege that he trafficked girls during the same time period as the earlier Florida probe.
Federal prosecutors in New York allege the politically connected financier, who has socialized with Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew, sexually abused dozens of minors and paid his victims to recruit others, allowing him to build a vast network of girls to exploit.