Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta held a news conference Wednesday in Washington to defend at length his involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking case. Acosta told reporters where he stands on the topic and how his office at all time wanted to avoid a deal that would allow Epstein to walk free.
“Facts are important and facts are being overlooked,” said Acosta.
The secretary went on to explain how in 2006 a grand jury convened by the state attorney, the district attorney of Palm Beach County, reviewed the evidence and recommended a single charge and that charge would have resulted in no jail time at all, no registration as a sex offender and no restitution to the victim. The state attorney’s office allowed Epstein to self-surrender and arraigned him the following morning. Acosta said the Palm Beach state attorney’s office was ready to let Epstein walk free with no jail time.
Acosta said federal prosecutors found that to be unacceptable and presented an ultimatum of pleading guilty to more serious charges that required jail time and restitution.
“We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail,” he said. “That was the focus.”
Acosta has faced numerous calls from the Democrats for his resignation over the Epstein plea deal after prosecutors in New York on Monday brought new child sex-trafficking charges alleging Epstein abused dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, then molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges; if convicted he could be imprisoned for the rest of his life.
While under great scrutiny over the security of his job, Acosta made it clear his office did the best it could under the circumstances at the time and that his relationship remained excellent with the president, who has shown great support.
President Trump said on Tuesday, Acosta has been “excellent” and a “very good Secretary of Labor,” he also said that “a lot” of people were involved in the 2008 case in addition to Acosta.