The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta’s role in negotiating a disgraceful plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein, who has been accused of molesting dozens of underage girls. Thanks to Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in South Florida, Epstein, who could have faced life imprisonment for sex trafficking, managed to plead to only two state prostitution charges.
Epstein served served just 13 months in state prison, where he was housed in a private wing at the Palm Beach County jail and allowed work release privileges. Epstein’s year of “incarceration” reportedly included trips to New York and the Virgin Islands.
The Department of Justice’s decision to investigate the Epstein-Acosta deal is the result of Sen. Ben Sasse’s efforts. In early December, after the Miami Herald reported on the scandalous deal, Sasse sent a letter to the DOJ requesting an inquiry into the investigation and subsequent plea deal. He has continued to bang that drum. Now, the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has informed Sasse that it will investigate.
Unfortunately, the OPR has limited power. For example, it apparently lacks the ability to subpoena witnesses.
Ideally, the DOJ’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, would investigate the Epstein-Acosta deal. Horowitz has said he would like to investigate, but that for this to happen, Congress will have to change the law to give him that power.
Congress should do so. The inspector general general should have this power, not just for the Epstein-Acosta matter, but in general.
In any case, the scandal over this matter isn’t going away. It has too many juicy angles. Check out this breathless three minute report by NBC News to see what I mean.
Expect Sen. Sasse to continue applying pressure. It would be nice if other Republicans joined him. Loyalty to President Trump need not extend to protecting a Secretary of Labor who gave a sweetheart deal to a pedophile.
Indeed, I find it stunning that, with all the original members of the Trump cabinet who have “moved on,” Acosta, who has done little if anything to advance a conservative agenda, remains in place.