Trump defends cabinet member Acosta embroiled in Epstein sex-abuse case

Coney Island

Coney Island

But the arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager's interactions with underage girls and about whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.

Acosta's lawyerly presentation was an effort to push back against growing criticism of his work in a secret 2008 plea deal that let Epstein avoid federal prosecution on charges that he molested teenage girls.

Top Democratic lawmakers and many Democratic candidates vying to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential election called for Acosta to step down.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he'll look "very closely" at Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's handling of the Florida case.

"On the very first party, I stated, 'Who's coming tonight?" "We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world", he said. Trump, for instance, took months to dismiss Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator despite a dizzying array of scandals, and allowed Jeff Sessions to remain as attorney general for more than a year even as he railed at and belittled him.

Schumer said Acosta must quit and said if he didn't, Trump should fire him.

Trump went on to say that he'd had a falling-out with Epstein "a long time ago".

But speaking Tuesday to newshounds within the Oval Place of work, the president distanced himself from Mr. Epstein, noting that he "knew him like everybody in Palm Seaside knew him".

Acosta said in a series of tweets Tuesday that the passage of time in this case may be an advantage because more evidence is known and more victims are willing to come forward.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump must explain why he made glowing comments about the financier in 2002 to New York Magazine. "I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you". And not merely because he appointed Acosta to head the Labor Department.

Monday night, Pelosi tweeted, "As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice".

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the allegations against Epstein horrendous and it was "good news that they're being pursued further".

Dershowitz has said that he is being accused of taking park in Epstein's underage sex ring because of his past passionate defense of Trump. According to the report, Epstein, 66, allegedly "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls" at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

Acosta's role in the deal more than a decade ago has come under fresh scrutiny after a Miami Herald investigation shed new light on the agreement, spurring federal prosecutors in NY this week to file new sex trafficking charges against Epstein.

In February, US Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that Acosta's office had broken the law by not telling Epstein's victims of the lenient deal, while US Attorney Geoffrey Berman openly called for potential accusers to contact his office to help him "build his sex-trafficking case against Epstein".

"We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail", Acosta said. Under the deal, he pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor and served 13 months in a county jail.

Epstein's case drew renewed attention earlier this year after the Miami Herald reported the plea deal and his alleged victims' ongoing struggle for justice amid the #MeToo movement that has unveiled sexual abuse and harassment by powerful men.

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