One intriguing aspect of Alex Acosta’s extraordinarily lenient treatment of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is Acosta’s meeting with one of Epstein’s lawyers — Jay Lefkowitz, a Washington, DC power broker and former law firm colleague. The meeting did not occur at the U.S. Attorney’s office, as is customary, but at a hotel far away from that office.
Acosta addressed this matter yesterday. He said the deal had already been reached by the time he met with Lefkowitz. The only result of the meeting, he claimed, was an addendum that added a provision favorable to the prosecution.
Implicit in Acosta’s answer is the admission that a negotiation that results in a deal like Epstein’s, or in any material benefit to the defendant, should occur at the U.S. Attorney’s office. Again, this is standard practice, I’m told.
However, according to Julie Brown, the Miami Herald reporter whose story reopened this matter, there was more to the meeting with Lefkowitz than Acosta let on yesterday. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brown said that, although the basic deal had been reached before the Acosta-Lefkowitz meeting, important details were discussed when they met away from the U.S. attorneys office.
In particular, there was the matter of victim notification. Brown told Tapper that this matter was, in fact, discussed at the Acosta-Lefkowitz meeting. She cited a note Lefkowitz sent to Acosta memorializing their agreement on victim notification (or the lack thereof) and thanking him for it.
Acosta’s unwillingness to notify victims of the plea agreement is a key component of this scandal. Indeed, a federal judge has ruled that the failure to notify victims violated federal law.
If Brown is right, Acosta agreed to this violation of law (which, given how bad the deal was, served his interests as well as Epstein’s) at an exceptional meeting with Epstein’s lawyer away from the U.S. Attorney’s office.