Epstein sought to pay off potential witnesses, US prosecutors say

14 Juillet, 2019, 06:26 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • United States Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta holds a press conference at the Department of Labor. He was discussing his prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein in Florida in 2008. (RESTRICTION NO New York or New Jersey Newspapers or newspapers within a 75

US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, has resigned following pressure over his handling of a high-profile sex abuse case.

The US attorney Geoffrey Berman wrote that Epstein "has a history of obstruction and manipulation of witnesses" including incidents when he was under investigation in the state of Florida in 2006, but most recently following the Miami Herald's publication of series of articles examining how that Florida investigation resulted in a controversially lenient 2008 plea agreement on state charges and a federal non-prosecution agreement.

The deal wasn't just unusual.

In seeking to keep the multimillionaire jailed pending trial, prosecutors in NY argued Epstein had a history of trying to obstruct inquiries into his misdeeds, including those from journalists.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.

Acosta, joining Trump at the White House before the president left for a trip to Wisconsin, said he did not want to be a distraction to the administration's work because of his leadership of the Epstein case more than a decade ago. This is not normal; it is astounding.

Acosta had been put on the defensive over the deal, and as this scandal played out, his resignation became pretty much inevitable.

Given that background, UltraViolet's Thomas said, "Congress should open a full investigation into President Trump, who was directly implicated as an enabler of Epstein, and is self-confessed serial sexual predator with almost two dozen accusations against him".

"I do not think it is right and fair to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today", the outgoing labour secretary said. I don't know Pizzella personally; I have never even met him.

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Pressed on whether he had any regrets, Acosta repeatedly said circumstances had changed since then. Former president Bill Clinton reportedly flew on Epstein's plane at least 26 times.

How did Acosta defend the deal?

Trump called Epstein a "terrific guy" in a 2002 magazine feature, but has said this week soon after that time the pair ended their friendship.

Instead of ending up in prison for the rest of his life, Epstein struck a non-prosecution agreement, which prevented the Federal Bureau of Investigation from further investigating his sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of emails, court documents and Federal Bureau of Investigation records. Whether or not all of those people were engaged in the disgusting violation of fundamental human rights this monster was engaged in, we can't say.

"We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world", he said. "Today's world treats victims very, very differently".

Acosta was confirmed in the Senate in early 2017 by a 60-38 vote, with all Republicans on board, along with eight Democrats and one independent. The defense argued that Epstein had been a "law-abiding citizen" for the last 14 years, and that he posed no threat to the public or risk of fleeing.

A federal judge has said Acosta violated federal law by keeping Epstein's victims in the dark about the plea arrangement, and the Justice Department has been investigating.

The deal is also being scrutinised by the Department of Justice.

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