House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign over his role in a light plea deal he struck with alleged child predator Jeffrey Epstein a decade ago.
Pelosi wrote on Twitter that Acosta “must step down.”
“As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice,” Pelosi wrote. “This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet.”
Schumer also called on Acosta to resign, according to The Hill, and former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine tweeted that Acosta “must go.”
The calls for Acosta’s resignation come after federal prosecutors in New York indicted Epstein on multiple sex trafficking charges Monday.
Acosta gave Epstein light plea deal despite dozens of alleged victims:
In 2008, Acosta was a US Attorney in Miami. The Miami Herald reported last year that Acosta gave Epstein the “deal of a lifetime” by allowing the billionaire hedge fund manager to plead guilty to just two state prostitution charges even though federal prosecutors had identified 36 underage victims.
Worse, the deal required prosecutors to keep the agreement secret from the alleged victims until it was finalized and provided immunity for unindicted co-conspirators.
According to the Herald, investigators believed that Epstein, a longtime associate of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, had built a “large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day.”
Investigators also believed that Epstein brought his well-connected friends for sex parties with underage girls on his private island.
Though Epstein faced a 53-page federal indictment that could have put him in prison for life, the deal with Acosta “essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes,” the Herald reported.
Epstein served just 13 months in prison and was allowed to leave to work from his office six days per week under the agreement.
A federal judge later ruled that the deal violated the law because he hid the plea deal from the accusers.
Acosta wasn’t vetted until he was nominated:
Acosta, who replaced Trump nominee Andy Puzder amid several scandals, was not substantially vetted until after the president decided to nominate him, The Washington Post reported. Trump currently has “no immediate plan” to get rid of Acosta, according to the report.
Acosta also has not been called to testify before Congress about the matter. During his 2017 confirmation hearing, Kaine was the only senator to ask him about the plea deal.
Acosta told Kaine that “professionals within a prosecutor’s office” decided on the deal and he was not part of it.