Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta "must step down." That's the opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following federal sex-trafficking charges against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who escaped a life sentence as part of a 2008 plea deal Acosta orchestrated while US attorney in Miami. Epstein avoided federal charges in pleading guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution from underage girls. The man accused of molesting dozens of underage girls at homes in Florida and New York between 2002 and 2005 served 13 months in a county jail, which he was allowed to leave for up to 16 hours a day, per the Hill.
The "unconscionable agreement" was "kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice," Pelosi said in a tweet late Monday, using the hashtag #AcostaResign. She added President Trump knew of the case when he appointed Acosta. The secretary has defended the controversial deal as the best option to ensure Epstein served time. "It was the work of our office that resulted in his register and put the world on notice that he's a sex offender," he said in April, per USA Today. Senate Republicans stress that the deal was vetted during Acosta's 2017 nomination hearing. He was confirmed with a 60-38 vote. (A judge found Acosta's office violated the law.)