Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta violated the law to help a serial child predator — but his job with Trump is perfectly safe for now.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Trump's secretary of labor, Alex Acosta, violated the law when he facilitated a lenient plea deal for a serial child sexual predator. But as of now, Trump isn't planning to fire Acosta. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump is "looking into" the matter and that is "not aware of any changes" in Trump's confidence in Acosta.
The ruling stems from a 2007 plea deal that Acosta, then a U.S. attorney, struck with Jeffrey Epstein, a Florida billionaire accused of molesting — and in at least one case, raping — more than 80 young women and underage girls. The case received renewed attention after a blockbuster investigation by the Miami Herald late last year uncovered the extent to which Acosta bent over backward to go easy on a child molester.
Under the terms of the deal Acosta negotiated, Epstein served only 13 months in county jail on two reduced charges of soliciting prostitution.
Now, as head of the Labor Department, Acosta is in charge of U.S. policy regarding sex trafficking.
District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled Acosta violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act, a law giving victims the right to know about significant events in their cases. While Acosta and his team spent hours and hours working on the plea deal with Epstein, he kept Epstein's victims in the dark. According to the judge, Acosta and his fellow prosecutors tried "to conceal the existence" of the plea deal "and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility."
While the case and allegations are horrific, Trump has long known Epstein and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him in the past.
In 2002, Trump called Epstein "terrific guy," and "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," Trump added.
Trump's refusal to fire Acosta for being lenient on a child rapist fits a disturbing pattern regarding Trump's view of women survivors of sexual abuse. Trump enthusiastically embraced Roy Moore in a 2017 Senate race, even after Moore was credibly accused of being a child predator. The following year, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, and defended him after credible allegations surfaced that he once attempted to rape someone at a high school party.
Then again, Trump himself bragged about being a serial sexual predator, laughing about "grabbing women by the pussy" and getting away with it.
After the Miami Herald investigation, more than a dozen lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into the plea deal. Earlier this month, the department opened an investigation, but it will be limited in scope and led by the Office of Professional Responsibility. The Washington Post notes that the investigation may drag on so long that Alex Acosta may not be in government service by the time it concludes.
But given Trump's reluctance to stand up for the victims of sexual exploitation, it looks like Acosta could stay in place for quite some time.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.