The Jeffrey Epstein scandal continues to mystify when it comes to what exactly is transpiring. Today, despite being told by the White House not to defend himself on government property, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta did just that, noting that it was “make or break” for him. Acosta then seemed to accost the truth, earning the rebuke of the state prosecutors in Florida.
Acosta also defended the sentence and deal given to Epstein by suggesting that there was less scrutiny of such crimes back then. But there was no less scrutiny then, according to various former prosecutors who spoke up today. The whole thing is mystifying. Acosta claimed that the times were different and that victim shaming was different and juries did not understand the same things. But in an excellent piece by CNN’s Kara Scannell, she identifies other sex trafficking cases that Acosta prosecuted, writing in part:
“The deal stands apart from other sex trafficking cases brought under Acosta’s watch. In 2007, the same year as Epstein’s deal, Acosta’s office prosecuted a Florida resident [for] sex trafficking of a minor. The defendant, Demond Levail Osley, was sentenced to 30 years in prison … Two other men were charged with two counts each of sex trafficking of a minor for financial benefit that same year. They served prison sentences. Neither of the cases involved dozens of victims.”
From all indications, apart from the Epstein scandal, Acosta has been a dedicated public servant and respected lawyer. We may never know the full details of what was involved in the Epstein plea deal and why Acosta made it so lenient. At the same time, being overly defensive and falsely blaming others is not the manner in which one should address the questions being raised in light of the new charges coming out of New York. Accosting the truth is not likely to settle the issue. And whatever else is true, Acosta remaining in his current role does not appear to be feasible in light of the cloud this deal casts over him.