A House Subcommittee grilled Alex “serial sexual assault of children — ¯\_(ツ)_/¯?” Acosta today:
Democratic lawmakers were concerned about a number of program cuts. Among them: a significant decrease in programs that combat human trafficking.
That opened the door for several of them to question Acosta about a sex-trafficking case he handled when he was a federal prosecutor in Miami a decade ago.
“This is not the first time you have ignored human trafficking,’’ said Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark.
Acosta, while U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, helped orchestrate an unusually light plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein, a politically connected New York hedge fund manager accused in 2005 of molesting and sexually assaulting dozens of girls, mostly ages 13 to 16, at his mansion in Palm Beach.
Instead of going to prison like most sex offenders in Florida, Epstein was given federal immunity and was allowed to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. A number of other people involved in his operation were also immunized and never charged.
He served 13 months in the county jail. But had Acosta prosecuted him on sex-trafficking charges, Epstein could have gone to prison for the rest of his life.
The deal, signed in 2007, was done in secret, and it was sealed so that no one could know how many girls Epstein abused or who else was involved in his scheme. Moreover, Acosta’s staff agreed to demands by Epstein’s lawyers that the victims not be made aware of the federal non-prosecution agreement until after it was signed and executed.
“The judge found you broke the law, Mr. Acosta, when you chose not to tell the victims about this deal and you gave them the impression that the investigation was ongoing,’’ said Clark at the hearing. “Was the judge right?’’
Acosta attempted to pivot, but Clark continued. “I asked you a yes or no question,’’ she demanded.
Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat whose constituents are in Palm Beach, quizzed Acosta about how it was that a sex abuser got off so easy.
“Many people in my community are upset that you allowed a sexual predator on the loose,’’ Frankel said. She is among a group of lawmakers who have asked for Acosta to resign. The Department of Justice is investigating the case to determine whether Acosta and other prosecutors committed any wrongdoing.
There is, however, an alternate perspective on the committee:
At the end of the congressional hearing, Republican Tom Cole, the ranking member of the committee, commended Acosta for the work he has done as labor secretary.
“You’re a person of great integrity and great skill…you have more than done your job,’’ Cole said.
Feel the integrity! In conclusion, how Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president is a mystery that will never be solved.
Read the entire Miami Herald series here.