Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta grilled on Epstein plea deal in House budget hearing
On Wednesday, Trump Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee to, in theory, testify about his department’s proposed 2020 budget. It was inevitable that Democrats were going to use the opportunity to demand answers of Acosta after recent revelations that he was the driver of an extraordinarily lenient 2007 plea deal for billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein that allowed Epstein to skirt federal charges entirely. In February, that plea deal was deemed improper by a federal court, ruling that Acosta’s team violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Acts.
Democratic Reps. Katherine Clark and Lois Frankel were not going to let Acosta skate through the hearing without addressing the simmering scandal.
“The judge found you broke the law, Mr. Acosta, when you chose not to tell the victims about this deal and you gave them the impression that the investigation was ongoing,’’ said Clark at the hearing. “Was the judge right?’’
Acosta attempted to pivot, but Clark continued. “I asked you a yes or no question,’’ she demanded.
Acosta was unwilling to say much of substance, aside from repeating his prior defenses that he takes sex trafficking “seriously” and that it was “the work of our office that made it so the world was put on notice that he is a sex offender.” That may have been a humiliation for Epstein, but it didn’t amount to much punishment; Epstein spent 13 months in county jail, but was allowed to leave the jail for up to 12 hours a day to conduct his business as normal. It was his own private driver that drove him to and from the jail.
Rep. Frankel, who represents Palm Beach, made it clear to reporters that she was far from satisfied with Acosta’s rote answers. And as the case to potentially nullify Epstein’s plea deal moves forward through the courts, scrutiny of Acosta’s actions will only continue to grow.