Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Resigns In Wake of Epstein Controversy
Acosta stepped down on Friday after facing criticism for a plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein while serving as a federal prosecutor in Florida.
Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta will resign after serving for over two years in the Trump administration. The Friday announcement came in the wake of a growing controversy over Acosta’s handling of a high-profile sex crimes case during his tenure as a federal prosecutor.
President Trump, who appeared at the White House with Acosta Friday morning, said Acosta made the choice to resign. He intends to leave his position in one week, leaving deputy secretary Patrick Pizzella to take over as acting secretary.
New sex trafficking charges against the multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein brought Acosta’s previous dealings with Epstein to the forefront. As a federal prosecutor in Florida, Acosta oversaw a 2008 “non-prosecution” agreement that allowed Epstein to plead guilty to some charges without serving a long prison sentence or admitting to the full scale of his crimes, which included exploiting underage girls for sex acts.
Many critics viewed the deal as too lenient and called for Acosta’s resignation, leading the secretary to hold a press conference on Wednesday defending his actions. But on Friday, Acosta said he did not want the controversy to become a distraction for the department.
"I do not think it is fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as its focus rather than the incredible economy we have today," Acosta said, according to National Public Radio. "The right thing was to step aside."
Trump praised Acosta for his work as secretary, calling him a “very good man,” The Hill reported.
“He did an unbelievable job as Secretary of Labor,” Trump added.
Acosta had been invited by the House Oversight Committee to testify on July 23 about the Epstein agreement. It was not immediately clear if the committee would continue to ask Acosta to appear if he has left his role by then, according to NPR. He was also the subject of a Justice Department investigation into how federal lawyers handled the Epstein case.