Facing calls to resign, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on Wednesday defended his role in arranging a controversial plea deal with financier Jeffrey Epstein when he was a Florida prosecutor.
Over the weekend, Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges related to his alleged abuse of underage girls prior to the striking of the controversial 2008 deal. This indictment sparked increased calls for Acosta to resign from Democrats who said he mishandled the case.
"We believe that we proceeded appropriately," Acosta said of his handling of the case, while declining to say he has "no regrets" about it. The Labor secretary argued that the deal was necessary to ensure Epstein received prison time and had to register as a sex offender after state prosecutors were ready to let him avoid both. "We stopped a bad state plea," he later said. Epstein ultimately served 13 months in jail but was able to leave during the day six days a week.
Acosta also defended the decision to negotiate the non-prosecution agreement without keeping the victims informed, which a federal judge previously said was a violation of the law. Acosta said "we followed department policy" throughout the deal's negotiation, even if this judge "had a different view."
This press conference came after Acosta was "pushed into" doing so by Trump, reports The New York Times' Maggie Haberman. Asked about his relationship with the president, Acosta said it's "outstanding," also insisting his relationship with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is "excellent" and that reports to the contrary are false. Politico previously reported Mulvaney has urged Trump to fire Acosta. Acosta denied he is trying to send a "signal" to Trump. Brendan Morrow
"We believe that we proceeded appropriately," Labor Secretary Acosta says when asked if he regrets the secret sweetheart plea deal for Epstein. "Look, no regrets is a very hard question" pic.twitter.com/Vao3Gjtf0n
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pulled no punches during Thursday night's Democratic primary debate — and she has no regrets.
During the second night of NBC News' faceoffs, Harris stood out from the pack as she took personal issue with former Vice President Joe Biden's senatorial stance on busing and allusions to working with segregationist senators. CBS News' Ed O'Keefe soon reported that a Biden aide considered Harris' shot "a low blow," but the former prosecutor doesn't agree.
CBS News' Gayle King pointedly addressed the aide's evaluation during a post-debate interview with Harris, asking the senator what she'd say to accusations of taking a "low blow." "It was about just speaking truth," Harris responded, adding that she has a "great amount of respect" for Biden but that "he and I disagree on that."
Harris' starring debate moment came as she shared how, as a child, she was "part of the second class to integrate her public schools" because she was "bused to school every day." Biden opposed federally mandated busing in the 1970s.
Harris also criticized Biden for his recent campaign stop comments, where he said even though he worked alongside segregationist senators, "at least there was some civility" and "we got things done." Kathryn Krawczyk