US Labor Secretary Acosta resigns over Epstein affair

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

Trump said Patrick Pizzella, deputy secretary since April 2018, would succeed Acosta on an acting basis.

"Neither of these payments appears to be recurring or repeating during the approximately five years of bank records presently available to the government", they said.

His lawyers have not yet commented on the payout claims.

Epstein, 66, pleaded not guilty this week to charges alleging he recruited and abused dozens of underage girls at his mansions in NY and Palm Beach, Florida, in the early 2000s.

On Wednesday Acosta held a news conference to defend his handling of the deal, which allowed Epstein to plead guilty to a state charge and not face federal prosecution.

Information that could shed light on jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein's wealth will be kept secret ahead of a Monday bail hearing in his sex trafficking case in NY, a judge has ruled. In exchange, the Southern District of Florida abandoned its criminal investigation of Epstein's conduct, agreed not to prosecute him federally, and-incredibly-agreed not to prosecute anyone else who helped him procure underage girls for sex. They proposed using Epstein's $77m mansion and private jet as collateral, and pledged to pay for security personnel to enforce his house arrest. NY prosecutors said their case involves new evidence and new victims, including a "vast trove of lewd photographs" of young-looking girls.

The payments were made shortly after the Miami Herald began publishing a series of articles about Mr Epstein, who was known for socialising with politicians and royalty.

In court documents prosecutors said: "This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging evaluations".

The Epstein case came up during Acosta's Senate confirmation hearing but the Republican-majority Senate approved him in a 60-38 vote. Acosta said he didn't think it was right for his handling of Epstein's case to distract from his work as secretary of labour.

Acosta has been under pressure to resign over a 2008 agreement that saw financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein jailed for 13 months over charges of soliciting sex with a minor.

He said that Acosta's troubles were not going away any time soon, and it wasn't like Acosta was the Attorney General or Secretary of State.

"My point here today is we have an incredible economy and the focus needs to be on the economy and job creation", Acosta said, calling it unfair the administration was being inundated with questions about a 12-year-old case.

President Donald Trump assured reporters this morning that Acosta had come to the decision all on his own. Former president Bill Clinton reportedly flew on Epstein's plane at least 26 times.

"He's a lot of fun to be with", he said.

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. "I have done many [cases] much less troubling than this one where [prosecutors] would never make a downward argument like this".

"This was him - not me", Trump said of the resignation decision.

Reports of Epstein's current wealth vary, with his Virgin Islands-based firm generating no public records.

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