The question Alex Acosta didn’t answer

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta answered lots of questions at his press conference today. Some answers were better, and more honest, than others.

But Acosta didn’t answer one question: Who at the Department of Justice did he talk to about how to handle the Epstein prosecution? The question is important because Acosta has implied that Main Justice took a softer line on Epstein than he did or, at least, that the Department was on board with his actions.

Yet, tellingly, Acosta didn’t name anyone at DOJ with whom he dealt in this matter. Instead, he hemmed and hawed and talked about how long ago the whole thing was.

This struck me as BS. A former federal prosecutor, now in private practice, shares my assessment.

He told told me, first, that he can’t imagine someone at Main Justice being involved in this prosecution at all. This was a local prosecution in the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office that didn’t implicate any major national interests. If Acosta sought guidance from Main Justice (e.g., to cover himself), DOJ would simply have kicked the matter back to him. If Epstein’s attorneys called bigwigs at Main Justice about the matter, they would have referred them back to Acosta whose case this was

Second, in the highly unlikely event that someone at Main Justice became involved, it would have been the Deputy Attorney General or the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. After all, Acosta held a Senate confirmed position. No one at a lower level than that would have helped make calls on Acosta’s case.

Thus, third, it’s ridiculous to think that Acosta doesn’t remember with whom at Main Justice he dealt. It was either the Deputy Attorney General, the head of the Criminal Division, or, conceivably, one of their deputies (but with their superior in the loop). Acosta would remember his dealings with someone at that level.

Moreover, fourth, if Acosta had someone at Main Justice on whom he could honestly place blame, he would remember the name of that person. You don’t forget the name of your “alibi” witness.

It seems almost certain that Acosta has no such person. That’s why he didn’t name anyone when offered the opportunity today.

If Acosta named someone, that person would contradict Acosta persuasively, leaving him in even hotter water than he is now.

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