83°F
weather icon Clear

Trump backs Labor secretary as Democrats demand resignation

Updated July 9, 2019 - 2:14 pm

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump defended Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Tuesday as a growing roster of Democrats demanded Acosta’s resignation.

The calls for Acosta’s political scalp began Monday after Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman charged billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein with two counts of sex trafficking with underage girls between 2002 and 2005. If Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty, is convicted, he could serve 45 years in prison — a lifetime compared to the scant 13 months Epstein served under a 2008 deal negotiated by Acosta, who was then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Sitting in the Oval Office with Qatar Emir Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani Tuesday, Trump also spoke of his falling out with Epstein when the two moved in the same high-end social circles of Manhattan and Palm Beach. “I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years,” Trump told reporters, “I wasn’t a fan.”

According to news reports dating to 2007, Trump’s Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago barred Epstein from the premises because of his unseemly pursuit of young females.

Trump’s Tuesday remarks about a freeze with Epstein stand in contrast to a 2002 quote Trump gave New York magazine. In that piece, Trump said of Epstein, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Also Tuesday, Acosta issued a public statement about the case, praising Berman for charging Epstein “based on new evidence.” Acosta also defended the relatively light sentence meted out to Epstein in 2008 as a deal reached with less available evidence, which nonetheless put a billionaire in jail, required him to “register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.”

Asked if he maintained confidence in his Labor secretary, Trump said Acosta had done an “excellent” job and that many people would do things differently if they had a chance to remake decisions made 12, 15 or 20 years earlier. Trump also said his administration would look at the incident “very carefully.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, faulted Acosta for failing to produce a longer sentence and hiding the non-prosecution agreement from Epstein’s victims. In remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, Schumer called on Acosta to resign, and on Trump to fire Acosta if he does not.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called for Acosta to step down Monday.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., also called for Acosta’s resignation. “Labor Secretary Alex Acosta failed miserably to deliver justice for the underage girls that Jeffrey Epstein abused and exploited,” Titus said in a statement. “The Department of Labor is responsible for handling sexual harassment cases and it should never have been overseen by someone who allowed a serial sexual predator to live a life of luxury.”

And Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., also joined the call, saying in a statement “as Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta is responsible for enforcing child labor laws and protecting against human trafficking. I’ve reviewed the recent indictment against Mr. Epstein and the reporting by the Miami Herald on Secretary Acosta’s role as U.S. attorney in arranging his plea agreement. Secretary Acosta showed a blatant disregard for the child victims of Mr. Epstein. As a former attorney general of Nevada who has fought against the sexual exploitation of women and children, it’s clear to me that Secretary Acosta must resign.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters he was open to investigation the 2008 deal.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
THE LATEST
Joe Biden leads fundraising in Nevada

Joe Biden, the former vice president, outpaced all his Democratic rivals for the 2020 presidential nomination in Nevada fundraising in the second quarter of 2019.

US’s ‘remain in Mexico’ expanded to dangerous part of border

The U.S. government on Friday expanded its policy requiring asylum seekers to wait outside the country to one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities, where thousands of people are already camped.

British say Iran seizes 2 vessels in Strait of Hormuz

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has seized a British oil tanker that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Dems questioning Mueller will focus on obstruction

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee who will question former special counsel Robert Mueller next week plan to focus on a narrow set of episodes laid out in his report.

County commission cautiously open to working with school district

The Clark County Commission on Thursday signaled a cautious willingness to partner with the Clark County School District on education initiatives that would be funded through a potential quarter-percent sales tax, but stressed the need for accountability, information and easier public access to school grounds.