House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over what she referred to as an “unconscionable agreement” with Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted Monday on sex trafficking charges in a New York federal court.
In 2008, when Epstein first became the subject of a federal investigation and entered a plea deal that earned him freedom at the time, Acosta held the position of an attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He was among the prosecutors involved in the plea that resulted in what was deemed as a lenient 18-month prison sentence, most of which he served on the loose. The charges, meanwhile, could potentially see Epstein face a life sentence.
Pelosi claimed in a tweet late on Monday that Acosta’s agreement with the indicted financier was concealed from his “young courageous victims” and prevented them from seeking justice. Pelosi stated that Trump was aware of Acosta’s previous employment and the Epstein case when he appointed Acosta to serve as US secretary of labour – the post currently held by the official.
.@SecretaryAcosta 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. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) 9 июля 2019 г.
According to The Miami Herald’s editorial, the allegations that Acosta dealt with were “stomach-turning”, but there were no federal charges brought against the billionaire, who was allowed, according to The Washington Post, to continue work from his office six days a week with the alleged victims kept in the dark about the plea bargain.
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”.
Acosta defended the plea as appropriate under the circumstances, with Epstein, who was to go to prison, having previously stated he was certain the women in question were over 18 years of age and that sex with them was consensual. However, the White House weighed in, saying the presidential administration was “looking into” Acosta’s handling of the deal.
In a freshly unsealed federal indictment, Epstein was charged with trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, targeting dozens of victims, some of whom were no older than 14. If convicted, Epstein faces up to 45 years behind bars.
Separately, prosecutors appealed to other women who may potentially come forward in the case, while the hedge fund magnate issued a non-guilty plea. Mr Epstein “is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant”, prosecutors wrote to the judge, arguing against bail.
The indictment claims that Epstein, 66, has been engaging in sex acts with dozens of vulnerable minors, after naked massage sessions in his lavish mansions, and paying them hundreds of dollars in cash so that they would recruit other underage girls to form an expanded “Ponzi scheme”.
At the time when the billionaire, who is known to have rubbed shoulders with international political and cultural elites, was detained right after a trip to Paris, prosecutors seized a cache of thousands of nude pictures of the alleged underage victims hidden in his New York estate.