At Contentious Congressional Hearing, Labor Secretary Acosta Still Won’t Admit Sweetheart Epstein Deal Was Wrong Despite Federal Judge Ruling He Broke the Law

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta faced intense questioning today from Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and other members of the House Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee over his infamous decision while a U.S. Attorney to allow a politically-connected billionaire accused of serial child sex abuse to escape serious jail time. Rather than take responsibility for his actions, Acosta hid behind the lack of consequences he faced from his old employer, the Department of Justice. Acosta ignored every opportunity to explain what he disagreed with in a Federal judge’s ruling in February that Acosta broke the law when he failed to disclose Epstein’s sweetheart deal to the victims and their families, a deal that many of the victims still fighting to overturn today.

“Not even a federal judge’s ruling that he violated the law is enough for Secretary Acosta to admit he was wrong to rob the victims of justice in this case,” said Kyle Herrig, senior advisor to Allied Progress. “The Secretary actually smirked as he stuck to his story that letting an alleged serial child sex predator off with a slap on the wrist and cushy work release privileges was the best he could do. If Secretary Acosta truly believes his judgment is beyond reproach in this case, he should not be serving another day as Labor Secretary. Someone who sees nothing wrong with letting powerful interests get away with exploiting the powerless should not be in a position of power themselves.”

Acosta’s performance was the latest reminder why the Senate needs to join the House in giving the DOJ Inspector General the authority he asked for to conduct a serious investigation into the Acosta-Epstein case by passing the Inspector General Access Act. The bill remains in limbo with Senator Lindsey Graham in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In February, Allied Progress ran digital and full page newspaper ads in the home state newspapers of Senator Graham and other key members to stop obstructing justice for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.In response, Graham claimed he only knew “what I’ve read in the paper” about Acosta’s misconduct in the case and that he’d “definitely look at it.”  Over a month later, Graham has continued to block a serious investigation into Acosta’s misconduct while at the same time hypocritically calling for DOJ investigation’s into President Trump’s political enemies.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Alex Acosta, While Defending An 80% Budget Cut To His Department, Which Oversees Issues Related To Sex Trafficking, Acknowledged That Serial Sex Abuser Jeffrey Epstein “Engaged In Vile Crimes” And Refused To Say If He Regretted Offering A Lenient Plea Deal To Epstein.

Alex Acosta Admitted That Jeffrey Epstein “Engaged In Vile Crimes,” Despite Making A Lenient Plea Deal He Made With Acosta’s Office.

When Questioned By Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Alex Acosta Defended The Labor Department’s Nearly 80% Budget Cut To An Office Fighting Sex Trafficking And Admitted That Jeffrey Epstein “Engaged In Vile Crimes.” Rep. Clark: The Department of Labor is a member of the interagency task force to monitor and combat trafficking in persons. Is that correct?Acosta: Umm. Yes.Rep. Clark: In fact, the International Labor Affairs Bureau, ILAB, within the Department of Labor is responsible for combatting exploitative child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. Is that correct?  Acosta: That is correct.Rep. Clark: So it’s fair to say the Department of Labor plays a very active role in combatting human trafficking and the problem’s a large one.Acosta: The problem’s a large one. The Department of Labor recently issued a report and it actually detailed 1700 recommendations that could be looked at around the world to address this…Rep. Clark: That is excellent, and I know there are hundreds of thousands of adults and children that are victims of sex and labor trafficking in the US. Glad you were looking at it and glad you were detailing a comprehensive strategy. But you’ve also proposed a budget cut of almost 80 percent. 79 percent to ILAB, where this work is done, bringing its budget from 58 million to just 18.5 million. I’m sure you’ve come prepared to justify this cut to us, but it does not go unnoticed that this isn’t the first time that you’ve ignored human trafficking. When you were the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, your office investigated Jeffrey Epstein and found, your office found, that there had been a sexual abuse pyramid scheme, that involved at least 36 underage girls, ranging from age 14 to 17. This is horrifying and sick stuff. Mr. Epstein raped and assaulted these girls. He recruited them out of shopping malls. He had employees that helped with this and then he invited his friends to do the same, and there’s evidence that he transported these girls among his mansions throughout the United States and abroad. Epstein and his friends destroyed these girls lives. Senator Ben Sasse called Mr. Epstein a monster. Would you say that’s a fair characterization? Acosta. He engaged in vile crimes, yes.[“Congresswoman Katherine Clark puts Labor Sec. Acosta on Hot Seat for Sweetheart Epstein Plea Deal,” Allied Progress via YouTube, 04/03/19 (0:50)]

Alex Acosta Refused To Say If He Disagreed With The Opinion Of The Federal Judge Who Ruled That His Plea Deal With Jeffrey Epstein Was Illegal.

When Questioned By Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Alex Acosta Refused To Say If He Disagreed With The Opinion Of The Federal Judge Who Ruled That His Plea Deal With Jeffrey Epstein Was Illegal. Rep Clark: You’re a law professor, besides many of your other jobs that you’ve had, and I’m sure you know there’s no such thing as child prostitution under federal law, only child sex trafficking and each offense under 18 U.S.C 1591 carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison. So logically, Mr. Epstein, with investigation of the federal US attorney’s office, should have been looking at a potential sentence of 360 years, at a minimum. But that’s not what happened because there was a power dynamic here, wasn’t there? We had teenage girls, with no power, who were rape and sexual assault victims, and Mr. Epstein and his friends, extremely powerful, wealthy, and connected people. And in a ruling on February 21stof 2019, Judge Marra found you illegally entered a non-prosecution agreement that allowed Mr. Epstein to serve just 13 months in county jail where he received 12 hours a day on work-release, 6 days out of the week. The Judge found you broke the law, Secretary Acosta, when you chose not to tell the victims about this deal. And that you gave them the impression that this investigation was ongoing. And do you disagree with any of the facts that were found in the opinion that Judge Marra issued?Acosta: Congresswoman, first let me say that the Southern District of Florida has prosecuted sex trafficking aggressively, in the past, and it is an incredibly important issue and it’s something that needs to be aggressively pursued. Turning to…Rep. Clark: Do you disagree with any of the facts as presented in the opinion of Judge Marra?Acosta: The Department of Justice I think rightly so, for the past 12 years has defended the actions…Rep. Clark: That is a yes or no question. I ask unanimous consent to submit the opinion. The hideous truth has come out. You chose wealthy and well-connected people, child rapists, over the victims in this case. If you as US Attorney, as a prosecutor where your job is to pursue justice, could not fight for these girls. [“Congresswoman Katherine Clark puts Labor Sec. Acosta on Hot Seat for Sweetheart Epstein Plea Deal,” Allied Progress via YouTube, 04/03/19 (2:34)]

Alex Acosta Refused To Say If He Regretted Offering A Plea Deal To Jeffrey Epstein.

When Questioned By Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Alex Acosta Refused To Say That He Regretted Offering A Lenient Plea Deal To Jeffrey Epstein. Rep. Clark:How as Secretary of Labor can you tell this panel and the American people that you can responsibly oversee this budget, the Department of Labor, including human trafficking?Acosta: [silence]Rep. Clark: Is there no answer?Acosta: Is that a question?Rep. Clark: That was a question.Acosta: So as I was saying the Department of Justice for the last 12 years has defended the actions of the office in this case. The facts, in this case, were presented to a grand jury that initially recommended, not initially, that actually recommended a charge that would have carried no jail time at all. If at the end of the day…[crosstalk] Rep. Clark: Do you regret making this deal in secret?Acosta: Congresswoman if I could finish, if at the end of the day Mr. Epstein went to jail. Epstein was incarcerated. He registered as a sex offender. The world was put on notice he was a sex offender, and the victims received restitution.Rep. Clark: 13 months in county jail. 12 hours a day work release. You consider that justice for the devastation of these girls?[“Congresswoman Katherine Clark puts Labor Sec. Acosta on Hot Seat for Sweetheart Epstein Plea Deal,” Allied Progress via YouTube, 04/03/19 (5:25)]

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