President Donald Trump commended Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta’s job performance on Tuesday and pledged to review the pedophile and sex trafficking charges against hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein “very carefully.”
“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,” Trump said in the Oval Office Tuesday. “He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan – I am not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”
Trump defended Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, who as a Miami-based federal prosecutor gave Epstein a plea deal in 2008. The deal enabled Epstein to plead guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Epstein and serve just 13 months in jail after allegedly sexually abusing dozens of young women and girls.
“I feel very badly, actually, for Secretary Acosta because I’ve known him as being somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job. I feel very badly about the whole situation,” he said. “But we’re going to be looking at that and looking at it very closely.
“You know, if you go back and look at everybody else’s decisions whether it’s a U.S. attorney or an assistant U.S. attorney or a judge. You go back 12 or 15 years ago or 20 years ago and look at their past decisions, I would think you’d probably find that they would wish they maybe did it a different way.”
Democrat lawmakers are demanding Acosta resigne over his role in brokering the lenient plea deal.
But Trump shot back, arguing Acosta is not solely to blame for Epstein’s minimal sentence.
“I do hear that there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him. I can only say this from what I know. And what I do know is that he’s been a really great secretary of labor. The rest of it, we’ll have to look at, we’ll have to look at it very carefully. But you’re talking about a long time ago and it was a decision made I think not by him but by a lot of people. So we’re gonna look at it very carefully.”
Epstein was apprehended in New Jersey on Saturday on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges for paying dozens of underaged girls to engage in sexual acts with him in New York, Florida and his Carribean private island, according to New York federal prosecutors.
He pleaded not guilty on Monday in New York City.
Following the president’s remarks, Acosta hailed the new charges prosecutors brought against Epstein.
“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Acosta tweeted earlier Tuesday. “With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.
“Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”
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