WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Under pressure over a decade-old plea deal with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced his resignation on Friday.
Acosta told reporters in remarks on the South Lawn of the White House that he does not want his handling of the Epstein case to be a distraction from the 'incredible economy' under President Donald Trump.
'So, I called the president this morning, I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside,' Acosta said. 'It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's twelve years old rather than about the amazing economy we have right now.'
Acosta said his resignation would be effective one week from today but noted in a letter to Trump that his resignation would not diminish his support for the president and his agenda.
Standing alongside Acosta, Trump stressed that it was the Labor Secretary's decision to resign and voiced his continued support for the former U.S. attorney for southern Florida.
Acosta has recently come under fire over his role in a 2008 plea deal with billionaire financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Under a controversial federal non-prosecution agreement, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to state prostitution charges involving a single victim rather than face more serious federal sex trafficking charges involving dozens of teenage girls.
Calls for Acosta to resign ramped up after Epstein was arrested in New York last weekend and charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
The indictment alleges that, between 2002 and 2005, Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls by enticing them to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money.
Epstein has previously been associated with Trump as well as former President Bill Clinton, although Trump now says he is 'not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein.'
In an interview with New York Magazine in 2002, Trump called Epstein a 'terrific guy' and '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,' Trump said. 'No doubt about it - Jeffrey enjoys his social life.'
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
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