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Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns after facing backlash for Epstein plea deal


He had previously defended himself against criticism for his handling of the plea deal

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned, following days of backlash for a plea deal for he helped orchestrate while he was a U.S. Attorney for registered sex offender and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

What happened now?

President Donald Trump announced Acosta's resignation on Friday. He said that Acosta had "tremendous talent" and that the choice to resign "was him, not me."

Standing beside Trump outside the White House, Acosta told reporters:

I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus, rather than the incredible economy that we have today. And so I called the President this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside.

He said he thought "it would be selfish of me to stay."

Acosta will remain in the administration until next week.

What's the background?

In 2008, Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Miami. In this role, he agreed to a plea deal with Epstein, who was being charged with some of these crimes at the time. Under the terms of this deal, Epstein would spend just 13 months in jail, pay out settlements to victims, and would register as a sex offender. Another aspect of the deal that has now come under intense scrutiny gave immunity to "any potential co-conspirators."

Acosta has attested that if it wasn't for his intervention, Epstein would have gotten off without any punisment whatsoever.

Trump previously had defended Acosta, saying on Tuesday that he "felt badly" for him because he was "somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job."

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