As rich and powerful Americans try to distance from the arrested financier and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, President Trump’s labour secretary, Alexander Acosta, above, announced his resignation for his role in a secret deal that let off the sexual predator with lighter sentence 12 years ago.
Acosta told reporters it was unfair on their part to let the focus fall on him in a case that is more than 12 years old.
Earlier, he told Trump he was leaving since he wanted the labour department to focus on its job instead of being consumed by the row over him.
It would be selfish and inappropriate for him to continue as secretary when his role in the 2008 plea deal is under scrutiny, he said.
Trump said it was Acosta’s decision to step down and he stood with him.
The move came after the arrest and detention of Epstein last Saturday for new charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy involving underage girls.
Democrats in the House and Senate seized the opportunity to cite a ruling by a judge in February this year which said federal prosecutors, including Acosta, violated the law by failing to inform Epstein’s accusers of the plea agreement.
Defending his role in the plea deal while serving as US attorney in Miami, Acosta told a press conference on Wednesday that his team reached the agreement because they wanted to see Epstein jailed.
But the sex predator spent only 13 months in a Florida jail after entering guilty plea of providing clients with underage prostitutes.
Like Democratic lawmakers, a section of the media played up the political angle involving Acosta after Epstein faced new charges. They also reported of Acosta’s personal relations with Epstein.
In the past, Epstein had been connected with high-profile figures such as Trump, former US president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
However, media and Democrats avoided mention of Clinton. Instead, they clamoured for Acosta’s ouster.
They spared Trump because the president had thrown Epstein out of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. Moreover, Trump claims he never visited Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.
Without mentioning Democratic leaders and his other critics, Trump said it is for the media to find out the rich and famous who used to visit the island as Epstein’s guests.
Prosecutors told a Manhattan court this week that more alleged victims have come forward after Epstein’s detention and more arrests are likely in the coming days.