Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned from his position Friday in the midst of controversy over how he handled the prosecution of wealthy businessman Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, when he was a federal prosecutor in South Florida.
Acosta made the announcement from the South Lawn of the White House, with Trump standing beside him.
The economy is great, Acosta said, per a White House media pool report, and “that’s what this administration needs to focus” on.
Trump appears with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on the White House South Lawn
His remarks are inaudible to me. Acosta speaking now, presumably about the Jeffrey Epstein plea deal pic.twitter.com/X3z5KgvGKM
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) July 12, 2019
After Acosta announced his resignation, Trump spoke to the assembled reporters.
“This was him, not me,” Trump said, suggesting it was Acosta’s decision to step aside, according to CNBC.
“He made a deal that people were happy with and then 12 years later, they’re not happy with it,” the president said.
Acosta oversaw a 2008 plea deal that allowed Epstein, who was accused of sexual contact with multiple underage girls, to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Epstein ended up serving just 13 months behind bars, according to CNN.
In recent days, Epstein has been charged with operating a sex-trafficking ring.
“We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail,” Acosta said at a Wednesday news conference in which he defended his actions, according to The Associated Press.
“We believe that we proceeded appropriately.”
“We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world,” he said.
“Today’s world treats victims very, very differently,” he added.
Acosta is a “great labor secretary not a good one,” Trump said, who did a “very good job.”
Trump said he will be replaced, at least for the time being, by his deputy, Patrick Pizzella, who will serve as acting labor secretary.
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