Engel, House Dems Demand Resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta

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Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-District 16)

WASHINGTON, DC –  July 10, 2019 — Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a top Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter with Congresswoman Jackie Speier and 66 of their Democratic colleagues urging President Trump to demand the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta over his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case while U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

“As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where Epstein exploited dozens of girls, Secretary Acosta severely mishandled Epstein’s case by secretly arranging an extremely lenient plea deal, showing an utter disregard for the law and those he was charged with representing,” the lawmakers wrote.

“As Members of Congress, we are committed to ensuring that those who occupy top positions in the federal government are held to the highest standards of the law. We strongly believe that Secretary Acosta was negligent in his duty to represent the best interests of the victims and the U.S. Government, and his role obliterates any credibility with enforcing our anti-trafficking and other laws. As such, we request that you immediately demand his letter of resignation.”

Full text of the letter signed by the 68 House Members can be found below:

Dear President Trump:

We request that you immediately demand Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta’s resignation. As you know, Jeffrey Epstein was indicted on July 8, 2019 by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York for sex trafficking and leading a conspiracy to traffic underage girls for commercial sex acts. The indictment, like the years of public reports, shows that Epstein “created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach.” As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where Epstein exploited dozens of girls, Secretary Acosta severely mishandled Epstein’s case by secretly arranging an extremely lenient plea deal, showing an utter disregard for the law and those he was charged with representing. Because of his central role in this miscarriage of justice, Secretary Acosta has no place serving as a top official in the Executive Branch enforcing our nation’s laws.

Many of us made a similar request in a letter dated February 22, 2019. This new indictment prompts even greater urgency, reinforcing public reporting that Mr. Epstein, a billionaire with deep political connections, was able to escape responsibility despite being accused of molesting and trafficking over 80 girls and young women since the early 2000s. In an article published by the Miami Herald last November, several women gave detailed accounts of being lured to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and forced to have sex with him or other men who came to his home. After Epstein had been arrested, multiple women were intimidated by Epstein and his staff and told not to talk to the police, which led to many victims remaining silent.

Despite abundant evidence and multiple witnesses still willing to come forward, then-U.S. Attorney Acosta failed to charge Epstein under federal trafficking laws, which could have put Epstein away for life. Instead, Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received a shockingly light sentence: only 13 months in a private wing of a county jail, from which he was able to leave 6 days a week for 12 hours at a time. Shockingly, this lax plea deal included a non-prosecution agreement that shut down other investigations and granted immunity to potential co-conspirators. This injustice was arranged by Acosta and showed no respect for the suffering of the victims and credible accounts of sexual violence and human trafficking.

Additionally, as the recent ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida found, none of the 36 victims who had come forward were consulted during the negotiating of this plea deal and therefore were not able to exercise their right under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to object or be notified of any court proceedings. Victims were told to be “patient” while the FBI continued to investigate. When in reality, Acosta’s team was deep in the process of negotiating with the defense. In fact, emails discovered as part of the Miami Herald investigation showed that the defense and prosecutorial team communicated frequently, sometime using private emails, and that the defense often dictated the terms of the agreement, citing Epstein’s displeasure. Further, Acosta himself stated that Epstein’s legal team had intimidated him to not take the case to trial and investigated him and his team to disqualify them from the case.

Epstein has not shown remorse for his actions and continues to display a flagrant disregard for the law, possibly because he was able to evade responsibility with help from Secretary Acosta. Notably, when the new indictment was unsealed, a cache of nude and sexually suggestive photos of young-looking women and girls was discovered during a search of Epstein’s New York mansion.

As Members of Congress, we are committed to ensuring that those who occupy top positions in the federal government are held to the highest standards of the law. We strongly believe that Secretary Acosta was negligent in his duty to represent the best interests of the victims and the U.S. Government, and his role obliterates any credibility with enforcing our anti-trafficking and other laws. As such, we request that you immediately demand his letter of resignation.

/s/ Eliot L. Engel, et al

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SOURCE: Bryant Daniels, Communications & Deputy District Director, Congressman Eliot L. Engel

 

eHeziEngel, House Dems Demand Resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta

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