Acosta Defends Plea Deal, and Trump Disses Epstein

President says they had a 'falling out' years ago and he is 'not a fan'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2019 1:30 PM CDT
Cabinet Official Defends 2008 Epstein Plea Deal
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta speaks at JLS Automation in York, Pa., Thursday, June 6, 2019.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The ugly Jeffrey Epstein case involving allegations of sex with underage girls continued to reverberate Tuesday, with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defending the controversial plea deal he helped orchestrate in 2008 and President Trump distancing himself from the imprisoned financier. Developments:

  • Trump: The president told reporters he knew Epstein years ago as a "fixture on Palm Beach," but "I had a falling out with him a long time ago," reports NBC News. “I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years," he added. "I was not a fan of his. That I can tell you." In the wake of the arrest, a 2002 Trump quote about Epstein has been in wide circulation. "I've known Jeff for 15 years," Trump told New York magazine back then. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

  • Acosta: As he has previously, Acosta said the plea deal he struck as a US attorney 11 years ago made sense at the time, per Politico. “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,” he wrote in a Twitter thread. “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.” He said he's happy with the new charges and called the allegations "horrific."
  • Trump-Acosta: Amid Democratic calls for Acosta's resignation, Trump offered some support. “He’s been a great, really great secretary of labor," said Trump. "The rest of it we’ll have to look at—we‘ll have to look at it very carefully. But you’re talking about a long time ago."
  • Attorney general: AG William Barr initially said he would recuse himself from the new Epstein case because his old law firm worked with Epstein. But Bloomberg and Fox News report that he has since consulted with Justice Department ethics officials and concluded that he doesn't have to recuse himself after all.
(Bill Clinton also is distancing himself from Epstein.)

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