US Secretary of Labor resigns amid Epstein furor

AG's office looking into sex crime allegations against Epstein in NM

AG's office looking into sex crime allegations against Epstein in NM

President Trump, who expressed support for Alex Acosta, said that Acosta made the decision himself to step down as secretary of Labor.

"I feel very badly actually for Secretary Acosta, because I've known him as being somebody who works so hard and has done such a good job", Trump added. "This is him, not me, because I'm with him".

The president said that Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will take the reins at the department's acting secretary.

Federal prosecutors in NY unsealed a new criminal indictment Monday charging Epstein with operating a sex trafficking ring in which he allegedly sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, in NY in Florida. In a 50-plus-minute lawyer-type rebuttal, Acosta argued his office had secured the best deal it could at the time and was working in the victims' best interests.

He said a state's attorney in Palm Beach County was preparing to allow Epstein to plead to a single charge of solicitation that did not make a reference to the age of the female minor.

"My point here today is we have an incredible economy, and the focus needs to be on the economy", Acosta said. "He needed to go to jail". He said if his office hadn't stepped in, Epstein would have enjoyed an even lighter punishment at the hands of state or local authorities.

Trump appeared with Acosta outside of the White House on Friday to announce his resignation.

The secretary "must step down" because "he engaged in an unconscionable agreement" with Epstein, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said last week.

Acosta will remain in the administration until next week.

"I think it's unbelievable", says Spencer Kluvin, a West Palm Beach attorney representing three women who say Epstein sexually assaulted them over a decade ago.

That put the whole mess front and center again, and Trump, binge TV watcher, was forced to watch (anytime he wasn't tuned to Fox News) replays of the Access Hollywood tape, or pictures of him with Epstein, or discussions of the lawsuit filed by a 13-year old girl against him (since dropped), or mentions of the party for two-Trump and Epstein-at Mar-a-Lago with a bevy of 28 beauties imported for the occasion. "You'll have to figure that out".

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jeffrey Epstein, left, with Donald Trump at the current president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 1997 Who is Jeffrey Epstein? Acosta confirmed reports, but he also chided the press for covering the Epstein scandal without referencing the impressive jobs numbers under President Trump and under his own watch at the Department of Labor.

"I wanted to help them", Mr Acosta said of the 36 victims identified in the case against Epstein, during the hour-long press conference at the labour department on Wednesday.

Publicly, congressional Republicans continued to stand by Acosta, saying issues about the plea deal were vetted at his confirmation hearing in 2017.

At a almost hour-long press conference at the Labor Department on Wednesday, Acosta described Epstein's actions as "despicable", insisting Epstein might have gotten away without jail time if the USA attorney's office hadn't stepped in and taken over the case from the state of Florida. As U.S. attorney, Acosta approved the deal.

Mr Acosta had responded to the criticism on Tuesday with tweets saying Mr 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".

Top Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates demanded that Acosta resign over his handling of the 2008 plea deal, which a federal judge has said violated federal law because Acosta did not notify Epstein's victims of the arrangement.

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