Democratic leaders in Congress are calling for the resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta after the arrest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges. Acosta was a U.S. attorney when he handled an earlier Epstein case that resulted in a lenient plea deal.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke from the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, where he called for Acosta’s resignation. “It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta’s ability to lead the Department of Labor,” he said. “If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him.”
Schumer added, “Instead of prosecuting a predator and serial sex trafficker of children, Acosta chose to let him off easy. This is not acceptable. We cannot have, as one of the leading appointed officials in America, someone who has done this.”
He also called on the Department of Justice to publicly release their review of Acosta’s handling of the earlier Epstein case. He went on to say that “there should be hearings” and, finally, that “the president needs to answer for his statements he has made about his relationship with Mr. Epstein.”
Here’s a clip of that speech:
NEW: Chuck Schumer calls for Labor Sec. Alex Acosta to resign amid Jeffrey Epstein case: "If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him. Instead of prosecuting a predator and serial sex trafficker of children, Acosta chose to let him off easy" https://t.co/WpoFJsmw6i pic.twitter.com/NOPsfsQjnY
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 9, 2019
Schumer’s remarks came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Acosta’s resignation in a Monday night tweet. She accused the Labor Secretary of engaging in “an unconscionable agreement” and claimed that Trump knew about that agreement when he appointed Acosta to his cabinet.
.@SecretaryAcosta must step down. As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 9, 2019
So far, the White House has been defending Acosta, at least publicly. Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Tuesday that Acosta is “doing a great job,” adding “look at the economy.” Conway also defended her boss, saying that the president hasn’t talked to or seen Epstein in “10 to 15 years.”
In 2002, the president called Epstein a “terrific guy” during an interview with New York Magazine. Trump added, “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. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”