Acosta Defends His Handling of the Jeffrey Epstein Case

Asked if he had a message for the victims, he responded, “The message to the victims is that you need to come forward.”

Andrew Harrer/ZUMA

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Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on Wednesday defended his involvement in the 2007 plea deal that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to escape a full federal investigation over allegations that he sexually abused underage girls, claiming that without his actions, Epstein would have avoided any jail time. 

“We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail,” Acosta told reporters at a press conference. “He needed to go to jail, and that was the focus.”

At the time, Epstein had been facing a potential life sentence. The disgraced financier ended up serving only 13 months in prison. Acosta had been serving as the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The news conference marked the first time—outside of three tweets posted the day before—that Acosta has publicly addressed the renewed scrutiny over his role in the 2007 controversial non-prosecution deal following Epstein’s arrest on Sunday for similar charges to the ones he faced more than a decade ago.

Acosta said that he welcomed the new charges against Epstein. He also claimed that his relationship with President Donald Trump was “outstanding.”

Declining to offer an apology to Epstein’s victims for keeping the plea agreement secret, Acosta appeared to blame the decisions of the career prosecutor in the case, as well as the FBI. “She details in this affidavit—an affidavit that’s also corroborated by the FBI case agent—how she and he and the office was concerned that Epstein might not comply, and we would have to go to trial,” he said. “We had to weigh the issue of how much to disclose against if we have to go to trial.”

He added, “We want to win. We want to put Epstein away. Talking about this would allow him to make the argument at trial that their testimony was compromised.”

When asked if he had a message for the victims, Acosta responded, “The message to the victims is that you need to come forward.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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