Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile who received a sweetheart plea deal from Alex Acosta, has been arrested and indicted by federal prosecutors in New York. The charge is sex trafficking minors in New York and Florida. As I understand it, all of the trafficking in question predates Epstein’s plea deal with Acosta.
I’m not clear on the extent to which Epstein may be able to use the plea deal to fight the new charges against him. I imagine the deal doesn’t let him off the hook for acts the prosecution didn’t know about at the time, but how much did the prosecution know when it made the deal?
I am clear on this: the indictment of Epstein, coupled with the unsealing of the file from his prior prosecution, will keep Alex Acosta in the headlines for the foreseeable future. Thus, the Secretary of Labor will be an ongoing source of embarrassment to President Trump, and the question of why he allows Acosta to remain in his job (if he does) will become ever more acute.
Given these realities, I got a good laugh out of the title of this Politico story: “The next 72 hours are critical for Acosta.” Politico reporters Anita Kumar and Daniel Lippman quote sources who seem to think that if Acosta can ride out the next three days, his job will be safe.
With Epstein and Acosta likely to be in the news for months and months, it’s hard for me to believe that Acosta will be home and dry if he survives the next three days. After three days, will Trump really want to have to explain during a presidential debate why he has retained in his Cabinet the man who let a serial pedophile off with little more than a slap on the wrist?
Kumar and Lippman seem to agree that Trump “won’t like it if [the story] lingers.” Of course he won’t. And linger, it will. The anti-Trump media will make sure of it, and be justified in doing so.
Other parts of the Politico story had me scratching my head. There is this:
The expectation in the West Wing is that President Donald Trump is likely to give Acosta the benefit of the doubt because of the allegations of assault by women that the president says have been falsely made against him and his most recent nominee for the Supreme Court.
Huh? Does Trump think that, because women made false allegations against Bret Kavanaugh and allegations he claims are false against him, the allegations against Epstein are false? Acosta has never claimed that Epstein was innocent. Such a claim would be laughable.
Acosta has suggested that the charges against Epstein would have been difficult to prove. But this assertion was never plausible, and will likely become less so once the prosecution’s file becomes public and the new prosecution of Epstein, by the Trump Department of Justice, proceeds.
Another of Acosta’s defenses is that he was not personally responsible for the “terms of Epstein’s incarceration.” He may not be responsible for how cushy Epstein had it during his time served, but it was Acosta who negotiated the ridiculously short duration of the sentence. The Miami Herald story that put this case in the limelight makes it clear that Acosta was the Epstein defense team’s patsy.
A spokesperson for Acosta told Politico that the Labor Secretary is “100 percent focused on implementing the president’s agenda of expanding economic opportunity for Americans and protecting American jobs from unfair competition like China.” But, as I have shown, Acosta’s focus has, instead, been on staying on good terms with organized labor and the “civil rights” left.
That’s why Trump’s acting chief-of-staff, Mick Mulvaney, had to place the Acosta DOL in “receivership.”
Politico pretty much acknowledges all of this. Kumar and Lippman note:
White House officials, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and business groups had soured on Acosta in recent months because of the slow pace of regulations being implemented by his department on issues, such as overtime pay. . . .
They also point out that “many Democrats and their allies, including the AFL-CIO, have stayed relatively quiet because they see Acosta’s tepid approach to deregulation as tolerable.” Of course they do, but why does President Trump?
The Politico story ends on an optimistic note:
“Acosta’s days are numbered,” said one Republican close to the White House. “I don’t see how, given the world we live in and with all of this new information coming out today, that he won’t need to resign to ‘spend more time with his family.’”
I don’t either. I just hope we’re not underestimating the president’s susceptibility to naked flattery.