Florida Lawmakers Applaud Labor Secretary Acosta’s Resignation

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President Donald Trump says Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down following criticism of his handling of a plea deal with a wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.

Mr Acosta joined Trump on the White House lawn as the President announced the resignation, which he said was Mr Acosta's idea.

President Trump said that Acosta called him Friday morning and said it was entirely Acosta's decision. "I didn't want anything to do with him", Mr Trump said about this former friend, as Mr Acosta stood at his side. "You'll have to figure all of that out", the president said.

"For the survivors to get justice, we need answers as to what happened at both the state attorney and federal prosecutor's offices in Florida", said Frankel in a statement.

The Miami Herald reports that Acosta's team struck a deal with Epstein that concealed the number and extent of his crimes from his victims.

"Times have changed and coverage of this case has certainly changed since [2008]", Acosta told reporters.

In a filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Epstein wired a total of $350,000 to the two individuals, who were not named.

".Alex was a great Secretary of Labor and his service is truly appreciated".

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"I do hear that there were a lot of people involved in that decision", the president said.

Mr Acosta had been under pressure from Democrats to quit. Acosta had received heavy criticism for his role in Epstein's plea deal almost a decade ago, which many considered a slap on the wrist considering the evidence against the alleged billionaire.

"We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world", he said.

When Labor Secretary Alex Acosta steps down on July 19, his deputy Patrick Pizzella will step in as acting head of the department.

But he added: "It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 years old". In February, a judge ruled that Acosta violated the law by not telling them about the deal.

"I don't think it's right or fair to have this administration's labor department have Epstein be the focus instead of the incredible economy we have today", Acosta said. "But he did an unbelievable job as the secretary of Labor".

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in NY announced new charges against Epstein, who escaped federal charges more than a decade ago under a non-prosecution agreement. Authorities in Florida, in turn, alerted New Mexico officials, who sent Epstein a letter telling him that "you are a sex offender and that you meet the requirement to register in New Mexico".

During his Senate confirmation hearing in March 2017, Acosta defended his record as a US attorney and addressed his decision to not indict Epstein on federal charges. Although Acosta may have done nothing untoward, his presence at the Labor Department arguably casts a pall on the Trump administration while the Epstein investigation is ongoing.

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