Politico reports that President Trump and Senate Republicans “are moving quickly to back up beleaguered Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.” They are doing so in the face of “rising pressure. . .from other corners of the White House, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney privately urging the president to dismiss him.”
Unlike Trump and Senate Republicans, Mulvaney has direct knowledge of Acosta’s performance at the Labor Department. He knows that Acosta stalled the implementation of important deregulatory initiatives and, through his agent, lied to him about the reason for the delay.
Mulvaney also understands, as everyone with an ounce of sense does, that Acosta is a political liability because of the sweetheart deal he made with serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — a deal that a federal judge says violated the law because it failed to provide notice to Epstein’s victims.
Yet Sen. John Cornyn intones, “I would point out that nothing new has come out, and we ought to reserve judgment until any new information is revealed.”
What new information does Cornyn need? We know the plea deal was scandalously lenient. We know it was reached between Acosta and a former colleague (and Washington power player) at a remote location, instead of at the U.S. Attorney’s office where plea deals are always negotiated. We know the deal has been adjudged illegal.
What is Sen. Cornyn’s standard of conduct? Is he waiting to see whether Acosta was bribed? He wasn’t. He was seduced by a Washington power player — the kind of guy who could help him down the road become a Cabinet member and/or a judge.
Sen. Kevin Cramer acknowledges, as he must, that Acosta’s deal with Epstein appears “egregious.” He adds, however, that Acosta has been a strong Labor Secretary.
Cramer is right. You have to be a strong Labor Secretary to stand up for organized labor and the activist civil rights lobby in a conservative Republican administration. You have to be strong to block the administration’s agenda, and to thumb your nose at the White House in the process.
You have to be strong to strong arm and otherwise stifle the conservative political appointees in your department to the point that they quit in disgust, as I’m told key Labor Department officials have done.
Cramer presumably meant that Acosta is a good Labor Secretary, not just a strong one. That’s President Trump’s mantra.
But Trump has yet to cite a single good thing Acosta has done. He says that unemployment is low, but acknowledges that this is a result of the Trump economy.
The guy who knows whether Acosta has been a good Labor Secretary is Mulvaney, Trump’s chief-of-staff, who has been forced, in effect, to shadow Acosta to make sure he does what he’s told and stops inventing excuses for inaction.
Trump should listen to Mulvaney. He should ignore the GOP Senators who, after all, are merely parroting Trump’s line.
If I were Nancy Pelosi (God forbid), I would strongly consider initiating impeachment proceedings against Acosta. This would force congressional Republicans to either buck the president or support a man who let a pedophile all but walk.
On the other hand, Democrats can’t genuinely be unhappy that Acosta is an ongoing embarrassment to Trump and that he runs the Labor Department in manner which, relatively speaking, satisfies organized labor and the left.