U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned Friday amid increasing scrutiny over a plea agreement he made years ago with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.
After federal attorneys in NY announced the new charges against Epstein this week, Acosta tweeted that he was "pleased" by their decision. Acosta was the USA attorney for southern Florida and many thought he gave Epstein a minor slap on the wrist. Under the terms of that deal, Epstein served 13 months in jail, was required to reach financial settlements with dozens of his alleged victims and register as a sex offender.
Acosta was the US attorney in Miami when he oversaw a 2008 non-prosecution agreement Jeffrey Epstein.
"We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail", he said, refusing to apologize for his actions.
"I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta's recollection of this matter is completely wrong", said Barry E. Krischer, who added that Acosta could have moved forward with a 53-page indictment that his office had drafted.
They also said they were anxious Epstein, 66, might try to derail his trial.
Acosta appeared on Friday at the White House with President Trump and announced his resignation, according to a pool note circulated to correspondents. A coalition of civil rights, human rights, labor and other groups opposed his nomination by Trump to the department's No. 2 slot, citing Pizzella's record on labor rights.
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"He had been recruiting in other countries so I'm sure that there's going to be more information coming out, not only about his operation but remember there were a lot of employees and other people, big people, who if they weren't involved in the operation, they knew about the operation", she said.
Acosta gave his own account of the circumstances of that agreement in a news conference earlier this week.
Top Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates had demanded that Acosta resign.
Epstein plead not guilty in Manhattan federal court to charges of sex-trafficking and conspiracy.
In 2008, then-U.S. Attorney Acosta oversaw an agreement that permitted Epstein to plead guilty to some related charges but which critics have since called far too lenient. The agreement allowed Epstein an nearly regular life outside the jail with minimum supervision.
As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims.
Mr Acosta had been under pressure from Democrats to quit.
Acosta had twice defended the deal this week, claiming that it was necessary to bring Epstein to justice at the time.
"The rest of it, we'll have to look at it very carefully", Trump said in response to a question from a reporter in the Oval Office alongside Qatar's ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.