Published: Fri, July 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump Defends Acosta But Will Look Into Epstein Plea Deal

Trump Defends Acosta But Will Look Into Epstein Plea Deal

The federal 2007 non-prosecution agreement in Florida, where Acosta was serving as a USA attorney, allowed Epstein to reach a plea deal in 2008 on a lesser prostitution offence and serve 13 months in a county jail, with leave during the day.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Trump repeatedly praised Acosta, calling him a "really great secretary of labor" and "very good" at his job. "I don't think I've spoken to him for 15 years. But we're going to be looking at that, and looking at it very closely". Both men eventually left the cabinet. "This one is something that was a long time coming - too long", he said in an interview. Trump did not comment on what the disagreement was about. The deal was criticized as lenient because Epstein could have faced a life sentence.

Former federal prosecutors said they believe the agreement is limited to the Florida district, but that there still may be a path forward for Epstein's attorneys.

On Capitol Hill, a slew of Democrats called for Acosta's resignation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused him on Twitter of having "engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice".

Schumer also called on Trump to explain his past relationship with Epstein.

But on Tuesday, sitting alongside the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, at a White House meeting, Trump said of Epstein, "I was not a fan of his".

Trump, questioned on Tuesday, said he feels "very badly" for Acosta because he's been a "very good" secretary of labor. Future President Donald Trump called him a "terrific guy".

"While it pains me to say this, given Barr's conduct in the past acting more as a defense attorney for Trump than an overseer of justice, I am concerned that Barr might interfere if he thought that Epstein might implicate Trump, who was friends with Epstein", Rocah wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was "inclined to defer to the president to make that decision".

Acosta says, "In our heart we were trying to do the right thing for these victims".

The latest charges stemmed from allegations that Epstein paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his NY and Florida homes.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Unlike typical plea bargains, these agreements are not made public.

Ultimately, Epstein served time in jail but was granted daily work release, allowing him leave each morning and return in the evening. The indictment states that once inside his home, "the victim would provide a nude or semi-nude massage for Epstein, who would typically be naked". As it was applied by the State of Florida, it ended up being 13 months, which is a separate issue, ' he said, alluding to the short sentence.

Through the finance world, he developed relationships with a number of high-profile figures including the UK's Prince Andrew and former US President Bill Clinton, who is reported to have taken multiple trips on the private passenger jet owned by Epstein.

Referring to the Labor secretary's post, Gillibrand told a reporter in Manchester, New Hampshire, that Acosta "never should have been there in the first place". His role in the Florida agreement was raised at his confirmation hearing in the Republican-led Senate. His lawyers said in court that the allegations in the indictment couldn't amount to statutory rape because there was no penetration. The Justice Department has said Attorney General Barr is recused from the matter because of his prior employment with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which represented Epstein at the time.

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