On Jul. 12, the Trump administration had another poor soul leave his chaotic cabinet, another on the high list of turnovers that has come through the White House. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is now the 32nd official to exit Trump’s wheelhouse. He resigned after issuing a letter explaining his choice. It was filled with rhetoric you expect, of how great a job they did and how America is truly great again. Many have left for various reasons, of their own choice or not, whether it was justified or not. However, if anyone deserves to pack up their bags and leave the executive branch it’s Mr. Acosta.
This all started on Jul. 6, when politically-connected financier Jeffery Epstein was arrested in the state of New York for sex trafficking charges. Accused of leading underage girls to his lavish homes in Florida and New York, initially paying them for massages, then leading to the molestation of the girls, since the early 2000’s. It’s not a pretty picture at all for Epstein and he is facing serious charges, with a 45-year maximum sentence and the possible forfeiture of his large townhouse in Manhattan, where the crimes took place.
A previous case was secretly settled with a non-disclosed plea deal in 2007. Armed with the same information that has resurfaced, Epstein was dealt two felony solicitation charges and 13 months in county jail with the ability to work in his office six days a week, a punishment that was not nearly close to matching the atrocious act of molesting multiple underage girls. The worst part of all of it was that during the deal, prosecutors decided not to inform any of the 30 recorded victims about the conclusions to the case, clearly breaking the Crimes Victim Rights Act and not allowing any of the victims to oppose. Much like the original case, this decision was brought up by a Florida district Judge in February, doubting its legitimacy.
Now you may be wondering what Acosta has to do with any of this. Well, the original plea deal was the solution that he negotiated back in the 2007 case. He was Florida’s U.S. Attorney at the time, aware of all the decisions being made about the case. Alexander Acosta never did anything to fully bring justice, allowing a pathetically soft retribution to come down on Epstein. Many have doubted Acosta’s reasoning back then, to the point where there was a justice department investigation probe against him and the case. Acosta held his ground as well as he could, first claiming that he was pleased that the case was brought back up and that “With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.”
Later, in a public statement to the press, he claimed that the U.S. Attorney office’s intervention happened because of the state prosecutor’s inability to appropriately charge Epstein for the crimes after a grand jury only found him charged on solicitation of prostution and that the guilty plea was a better alternative then letting him walk away free. Finally, he refused to apologize about not informing the victims, claiming that if they had originally, Epstein’s defense could have used it against them, because the deal could involve restitution and they didn’t want them to make the victims seem motivated by money.
That whole excuse reeks of excuses and lies, it does nothing to explain what factors made them decide why they couldn’t have pushed for a harder punishment, it poorly creates an excuse as to why the victims were never informed, and it tries to throw the blame at the (also poor) state grand jury. There is no clear vision of his reasoning just thinly supported excuses as to why there was apparently no other way.
Well, I don’t buy it and neither did many other people. Virginia Rep. Tim Kaine said, “Acosta is trying to defend the indefensible. He put a monstrous predator above survivors of sexual abuse, and he’s got to go — period.” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also tweeted, “[Secretary 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. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign.” There was an outcry from all sides towards the administration the Acosta should step down after all that’s been revealed.
Acosta saw the writing on the wall and in an effort to slink away before he gets into any more trouble, he resigned, claiming that he made this decision all on his own, to protect the president and his administration, to help bring focus to the “amazing economy.” It’s clear to me that Acosta is willing to say anything to keep a clean face. Maybe, in his own unintentional way, Trump is draining out the swamp. Alexander Acosta was definitely one of its creatures.