President Trump nominated as labor secretary last month a former federal prosecutor suspected of covering up multiple scandals, including the alleged rape of underage girls in 1994 by billionaire pervert Jeffrey Epstein and Trump, who was Epstein’s friend and neighbor.
Trump picked former Bush administration prosecutor R. Alexander Acosta Feb. 16 to lead the Labor Department despite his multiple legal controversies involving sex predators, corrupt bankers and billionaire tax cheats. Their crimes largely escaped prosecution from Acosta and his law enforcement colleagues.
Most dramatic was Acosta’s confidential plea agreement in 2008 not to prosecute Epstein for operating what police described as massive sex trafficking ring that allegedly involved Trump in the rape of a 13-year-old in 1994, according to a recent lawsuit withdrawn last year.
In a virtually unprecedented concession to a defendant and his suspected accomplices, Acosta’s deal with Epstein forbade authorities from investigating his associates. These included Epstein's Palm Beach neighbor Trump, who was also a fellow wealthy socialite on Manhattan’s East Side.
Acosta's hands-off federal posture allowed state authorities in the joint federal-state case to arrange a sweetheart deal with the billionaire (shown in a mugshot) to serve 13 months of night incarceration. This special treatment was meted out despite massive police evidence that Epstein sexually abused scores of underage girls recruited from Palm Beach area junior high and high schools.
County records show that the sentence was so light that Epstein was visited 67 times in his vacant wing of the minimum security Palm Beach County Stockade by Nadia Marcinkova. She was an assistant who police say helped wrangle teen masseuses for Epstein during his crime spree, and joined in what the New York Post described in 2009 as the “sordid sex play.”
More recently, a lawsuit filed last year in California and New York federal courts by a “Jane Doe” (later identified as a Katie Johnson), accused Trump and Epstein of raping her in New York City in 1994 when she was a 13-year-old runaway and aspiring model.
Trump allegedly then threatened her with death if she reported her multiple rapes or Trump’s threat that she would end up like “Maria,” another underage girl, age 12, who was said to have disappeared suddenly from their sex and “party” scene.
The suit was dropped last November because of alleged threats from unknown sources, according to attorney and legal commentator Lisa Bloom, who had authored Why The New Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored.
Although the suit has a tangled history and was withdrawn in November Florida court recorts contain a far more credible and therefore important trove of evidence, which has important parallels in banking, political and other cases involving Acosta.
Trump representatives have dismissed the New York "Jane Doe" suit as baseless. Acosta and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer failed to respond to Justice Integrity Project requests for comment about Acosta.
Trump named Acosta as his nominee for labor secretary protecting the nation's workers soon after businessman Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination. Puzder (shown in a file photo) failed to win sufficient Senate support.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Acosta on March 22, postponed from March 15.
Epstein's problems arose publicly in 2005 after a Palm Beach mother claimed that Epstein paid $300 to her 14-year old daughter for sex. Palm Beach police developed leads from there. They suggested that Epstein and his accomplices had recruited scores of underage girls from local schools for massages often leading to sexual encounters.
But there’s always a difference of opinion in such matters, particularly when friends are involved.
“I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,'' Trump told New York Magazine in 2002. "He's a lot of fun to be with," continued Trump (shown in a graphic by ABananaPeeled.com, licensed under DCMA). "It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Acosta’s backers can be expected to steer his confirmation as far away from Epstein and Trump as possible, and focus instead on the nominee’s career highlights and Hispanic background.
The Senate’s clubby traditions lend themselves to that kind of emphasis on the positive. So do the incentives of many special interest advocacy organizations that focus their endorsements on ethnic identity, partisan politics and other narrow goals adapted to the go-along, get-along culture of Washington.
Part of that culture, more generally, is the reluctance of many organizations to dig deep into sexual and financial topics, especially when the majority party pushes a nomination for fast approval. Few take the time for expert witnesses, victims, and hard questions, as seems likely for Acosta Wednesday morning at his so-far fast-track nomination.
Even so, it may be that the particulars of Acosta's background could pique the interest of the public — if the public ever got a hint of it.
Just the Facts
This column begins a multi-part series that documents the horrific crimes and mind-boggling mysteries that Acosta and his colleagues helped cover-up while advancing their own careers under the slogan of "public service."
One path leads from Epstein to Trump to "Maria," alleged in the withdrawn "Jane Doe" lawsuit to have been a 12-year-old sex victim who may have been murdered.
Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), is a former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and the author of 15 books along with large numbers of newspaper op-ed columns and guest appearances on radio shows. He is also one of the few reporters who apply "shoe leather" reporting and document study to, among other topics, naming the high-level names of the perpetrators suppressed sex scandals. He has been especially active in publishing reports about presidents, senators, and other top officials of both parties, including judges and prosecutors.
Madsen has his critics from left, right and mainstream, but also unique successes in this field. The latter include his exclusive three-part series in 2006 exposing the then-powerful GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert as a gay pedophile despite Hastert's devout Christian, anti-gay and "family values" public image.
Authorties filed charges two years ago against Hastert for murky reasons, later revealed to have involved his payment of millions of dollars in hush money in fear of revelation of his crimes and his hidden lifestyle already reported by Madsen. The former speaker, the longest-serving in Republican history, is now serving a long prison term.
Madsen's columns in February about Trump on the investigative subscription service "The Wayne Madsen Report" (WMR) drew on the investigator's long study of the Epstein case and the problems that arise when blackmailers target top officials, often at vast costs to taxpayers or America's other interests, such as honest arms acquistion and foreign policy.
The reporter published his main column on Trump, Trump's Jane, Tiffany, and Joan Doe problem , on Feb. 8 even before Acosta's nomination. Madsen promptly followed up that nomination Feb. 17 with such other columns as Labor pick Acosta part of Epstein-Trump underage sex crime cover-up.
Madsen is one of the few watchdogs who dare pose a so-far unanswered question for Trump, Acosta and those U.S. senators who this week begin to weigh the Acosta nomination. The question?
Our series beginning today helps chart what we know of that mystery. But that search necessarily involves you and those others who might dare to demand answers without the niceties and obstacles of official Washington.
Some of the Senate's most famous players — including Republican champions of family values, Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — will be put to the test on the nomination beginning March 22.
How will they respond? How will their constituents respond?
Acosta's Role, the Senate's Role, Your Role
Acosta, 48, is the son of Cuban refugees. He earned a law degree from Harvard and received Bush administration presidential appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and to two posts in the Justice Department, including as U.S. attorney for the Justice Department's Miami-based southern district of Florida from 2005 until the near end of the Bush administration in 2009.
He is currently dean of Florida International School of Law in Miami and also chairman of the U.S. Century Bank, ranked as his state’s largest domestically owned Hispanic community bank and among the 15 largest such banks in the nation.
In normal times, this kind of career path — whereby a minority group member's advancement from investigating bankers to becoming a banker — might seem purely positive. Indeed, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) each rushed out statements on the day of Acosta’s nomination praising him as an outstanding choice.
Yet a close examination of this nominee's record raises many questions of judgment on the part of the nominee on specific cases, questions whose importance are magnified in this instance because federal prosecutors are rarely held accountable even for gross lapses. Acosta has the rare circumstance of a nomination before a U.S. Senate committee that will be shirking its duty if it fails to explore the evidence.
During the Senate's consideration of Acosta's nomination, that body has the power to call witnesses and demand other evidence to determine the facts regarding the massive child sex trafficking ring Acosta helped enable and the other injustices portrayed below. Readers here should know that the allegations have been massively documented by multiple lawsuits and, perhap most importantly, by investigative files posted on the web (with victim names removed) by Florida police outraged at the sweetheart deal Acosta and his state counterpart arranged for Epstein and his pedophile accomplices.
Investigative report Dan Christenson reported March 14 (in President Trump on witness list in Palm Beach lawsuit involving billionaire pedophile) that Trump is listed on the witness list for a civil trial against Epstein beginning this spring, with Acosta's role almost certainly a factor as well.
Yet the senators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) are unlikely to bestir themselves beyond partisan rhetoric and other ineffectual posturing unless the public demands action.
As we report in a subsequent segment, Epstein's friends and travel companions included former President Bill Clinton and a separate pedophilia scandal reaches into the Senate committee's own staff leadership. Clinton has not been accused so far as currently reported with any specific acts of lewdness involving underage girls with Epstein, but flight records and other evidence indicates that the Clinton and several colleagues had tight relationship with Epstein. Democrats are unlikely to want to dig deeper, just as Republicans seek to protect Trump. At some point, however, ordinary citizens may protest that their senators are not supposed to be covering up crimes and inflicting flawed nominees on the country without a thorough examination that exonerates the nominees.
This series provides a roadmap for your understanding of some of the darkest forces corrupting the justice system. The Acosta nomination provides you as a citizen and news consumer with an unusual opportunity to take action in an effective manner. For one thing, it would be a rare senator from either party who, if ever pushed by public opinion dares not investigate suspected widespread abuse of junior high school sex victims.
Labor Secretary Nominee Acosta’s Background
As noted above, Acosta would be the first Hispanic in the Trump cabinet. Educated in the private Gulliver Schools in Miami, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College and then from Harvard Law School.
He clerked in Newark for U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito, the future Supreme Court justice. Acosta next worked at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis and from 1998 to 2000 at the socially conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.
He then obtained three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions under the Republican President Bush. Acosta was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 2002 to 2003, where he is reported to have participated in or authored more than 125 opinions.
Next, he was assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division beginning in August 2003. He was reported to be the first Hispanic to hold the DOJ rank of assistant attorney general.
In that post, he urged an Ohio judge before the 2004 federal election to refrain from hearing petitions challenging voting restrictions. Critics would later cite as evidence of his deference to the powerful. President George W. Bush’s victory in Ohio by 2.1 percent under disputed conditions provided the 20 Electoral College votes needed for his re-election.
In 2005, Bush appointed Acosta as acting U.S. attorney for Florida’s southern district supervising all criminal and civil litigation for a district based in Miami. Acosta won Senate confirmation the following year for a job he held for the remainder of the Bush administration.
Acosta’s biographical materials claim credit for his office’s prosecutions, especially those that can be portrayed as highly successful. That kind of self-promotion is standard practice for the nation’s 93 regional U.S. attorneys, who function more as supervisors of other prosecutors and agents than as sleuths or courtroom orators.
Acosta’s record thus boasts of many convictions that look suitably impressive in the aggregate.
Acosta Prospered During U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal Era
Yet Acosta’s tenure also came during what is known as “the U.S. Attorney firing scandal,” when the Bush administration fired seven (some commentators count nine) of Acosta’s 93 fellow Republican U.S. attorneys around the country for failing to apply the Bush administration’s political criteria sufficiently in their prosecution decisions.
The nearly unprecedented mass firings came to light after the 2006 mid-term elections when several of those terminated, most notably New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, compared notes privately and then went public.
Required resignations (as currently occurring, as reported in Trump Demands 46 U.S. Attorneys Quit) are routine in the presidentially appointed positions when political parties change in the White House. But forced resignations are unusual within the same political party unless the prosecutors demonstrate ineptitude, personal problems, or some similar flaw.
In 2006, several were outraged that their careers were thus tainted. They believed their problems arose not from their professional shortcomings but because took seriously their oaths to the Constitution to apply the law fairly.
More specifically, as later investigations showed, the fired prosecutors were blamed by political operatives in the Bush White House and Justice Department for failing to crush prominent Democrats or low-level scapegoats on dubious charges, typically involving corruption or in a few cases, of small-time voting registration fraud. Iglesias published a powerful memoir In Justice: Inside the Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration was published in 2008.
The scandal created headlines that forced the 2007 resignations of its masterminds, White House senior advisor Karl Rove and Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales, both longtimes supporters of President Bush.
But partisan Republicans and timid, ineffective Democrats thwarted any serious investigation of the gross injustices perpetrated by the abuses, as we reported in many columns here at the Justice Integrity Project.
Our examination of those horrid tales of unresolved injustice beginning in late 2008 led to the founding of our non-partisan Justice Integrity Project. Our initial goal was in-depth reporting on the kinds of decision-making U.S. attorneys like Acosta were performing to avoid getting fired like Iglesias.
The brings our attention to current news and its implications for the future.
During a confirmation hearing on March 22 (postponed from March 15), the nation can examine how the U.S. Senate HELP committee fulfills its responsibilities. The Epstein case is just one example of Acosta's seeming stance of kow-towing to cronies and the wealthy, as the rest of this series will document in coming days.
Thanks to C-SPAN, we are all likely to be able to watch whether GOP Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (shown above left) and the committee's top Democrat, Patty Murray of Washington State (shown at right), simply go through the motions of rubber-stamping the Acosta nomination with partisan rhetoric. That would place Acosta in the one cabinet post created to protect the working conditions of Americans.
The drama is whether the senators choose another course and, whether they approve him or not, extract meaningful answers about what he knows and the choices that he has made to become Trump's nominee. Someone might even ask, "Where's Maria?"
Coming next in the Justice Integrity Project's multi-part series on the Acosta nomination, Part II: Senators Must Block Trump Labor Pick Until They Review Evidence Of Teen Sex Trafficking Cover Up, Other Scandals, and Part III: "Rule of Law, Justice Department Hypocrisy & Prosecution Power."
Later segments focus on unsolved crimes, victims, and Senate decision-makers
Politico, Sen. Murray signals interest in Acosta's role in billionaire's sex plea deal, Josh Gerstein, March 17, 2017. A key Democratic senator is exploring Labor Secretary nominee Alex Acosta's role in what critics have described as a "sweetheart plea deal" given to a billionaire sex offender while Acosta was the top federal prosecutor in south Florida.
The top Democrat on the Senate HELP committee, Patty Murray of Washington, sent a letter to the Justice Department Thursday asking for records on a variety of topics, many of them relating to Acosta's service as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President George W. Bush.
However, the last of Murray's requests seeks: "All documents and communications authored by or referencing Mr. Acosta related to the investigation of Jeffrey Epstein." Epstein, a wealthy financier, came under investigation by state and federal authorities over allegations that he had members of his personal staff solicit teenage girls at a local high school to come to his home to engage in sexual activities for money.
As the U.S. attorney in Miami, Acosta agreed not to file any federal charges against Epstein, a wealth financier, if he pleaded guilty to state charges involving soliciting prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution. Soon after the deal was cut in 2008, two women filed suit claiming that the decision to forgo federal prosecution violated a federal law - the Crime Victims Rights Act - because they and other teenagers Epstein paid for sex were never adequately consulted about the plea deal or given an opportunity to object to it. The suit remains pending nearly a decade later.
While Acosta's involvement in the Epstein saga drew media attention as soon as his nomination was announced, senators have been relatively quiet about the issue before Murray raised it in her request to the Justice Department this week.
Related News Coverage (Segments Arranged In Reverse Chronological Order)
Withdrawal of Puzder Nomination As Labor Secretary
Roll Call, Report: Puzder to Back Out of Labor Secretary Nomination, Staff report, Feb. 15, 2017. Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. head lacked confirmation votes. Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor secretary, is apparently backing out of the confirmation process. According to CNN and other media outlets, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, had been heavily criticized since being picked in December, and decided to withdraw his nomination. Among the critiques were allegations of domestic abuse, financial conflicts of interest, his employment of an undocumented immigrant, and worker complaints filed against his company.
President Trump's Announcement of Acosta Nomination
Washington Post, Donald Trump’s combative, grievance-filled press conference, annotated, Aaron Blake, Feb. 16, 2017. A solemn President Trump turned his Thursday afternoon announcement of a new labor secretary nominee into a screed against the media and large-scale defense of his first four weeks as president.
It was remarkable. Trump hit all the usual points: The polls, the electoral college, the media, etc. He even said that he inherited a "mess" four separate times. There were grievances galore. Below is the transcript, which we'll update as it comes in, along with our analysis and annotations.
News Reports On Alexander Acosta's Nomination As Labor Secretary
Trump Listed As Witness In Friend Epstein's Pedophile Civil SuitTrial
Florida Bulldog, President Trump on witness list in Palm Beach lawsuit involving billionaire pedophile, Dan Christensen, March 14, 2017. President Donald Trump is on a list of witnesses for trial in a Palm Beach lawsuit that pits billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein against a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents Epstein’s victims. The case appears bound for trial this summer following a Feb. 9 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in another case that has allowed Fort Lauderdale lawyer Bradley Edwards’ claim of malicious prosecution against Epstein to proceed.
President Trump “has been identified as an individual who may have information relating to these allegations,” said Edwards’ West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, who placed Trump’s name on a witness list on Aug. 31. “But it’s unlikely that he would ever be called” to appear at trial, especially now that he’s assumed the presidency. Scarola said Trump is one of a number of high-profile individuals whose testimony might be relevant because they “had a relationship with Epstein that would have at least exposed them potentially to what was going on inside Epstein’s Palm Beach home … during the relevant period of time” between 2001-2007.
What was going on in Epstein’s mansion, court papers say, was an ugly child molestation scheme involving sex with “substantially more” than 40 girls, some as young as 12. A “statement of undisputed facts” filed by Scarola says Epstein used his staff and his victims to recruit more victims, employing “a pyramid abuse scheme in which he paid underage victims $200-$300 cash for each other underage victim that she brought to him.”
“There is no evidence the President was involved in Epstein’s schemes,” Scarola said.
Still, the spectacle of a U.S. president being drawn into sordid litigation involving a notorious politically connected sexual criminal who got an apparent sweetheart deal from then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, now Trump’s nominee to become U.S. Secretary of Labor, represents a potential political nightmare for the White House. The White House press office did not respond to requests for comment. Epstein’s attorney, Tonja Haddad Coleman, declined to comment.
A little-noticed affidavit by Edwards recounting his knowledge of Trump’s involvement with Epstein is recounted further below in this story.
Washington Examiner, Labor secretary nominee Acosta's confirmation hearing postponed, Sean Higgins, March 12, 2017. The first Senate hearing for R. Alexander Acosta, President Trump's nominee to head the Labor Department, has been postponed until later this month.
The event, which had been set for this week, was pushed back due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesman for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said.
Because Chairman Alexander will be joining President Trump in Nashville on Wednesday, Alexander Acosta's confirmation hearing will be rescheduled to Wednesday, March 22nd at 9 a.m. The Executive Session for committee members to vote on Mr. Acosta's nomination will be scheduled for the following week," said committee spokesman Taylor Haulsee.
Associated Press via Northwest Indiana Times, Trump's labor nominee likely to be asked about Florida case, Curt Anderson and Laurie Kellman, March 11, 2017. Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a billionaire sex offender while U.S. attorney in Miami.
Acosta has won confirmation for federal posts three times previously, but he has never faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill for his time as U.S. attorney.
Critics, including attorneys for some underage victims of financier Jeffrey Epstein, say the plea agreement was a "sweetheart deal" made possible only by Epstein's wealth, connections and high-powered lawyers. Acosta has defended his decisions as the best outcome given evidence available at the time.
"Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher. Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view," Acosta wrote in a March 2011 letter to media outlets after leaving the U.S. attorney's office. "Had these additional statements and evidence been known, the outcome may have been different. But they were not known to us at the time."
Senate aides from both parties expect Democrats to raise the case during Acosta's confirmation hearing Wednesday (postponed until March 22) as an example of him not speaking up for less-powerful people. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
Sen. Patty Murray (shown in an official photo), the leading Democrat on the committee, said in a statement she met with Acosta on Thursday and is concerned about whether he would "stand up to political pressure" and advocate for workers as labor secretary. Unlike Trump's original choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, Acosta is expected to win confirmation.
The Florida International University law school dean was nominated after Puzder, a fast-food executive, withdrew over his hiring of an undocumented immigrant housekeeper and other issues.
Acosta, 48, has previously won Senate confirmation as Miami U.S. attorney, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division and the National Labor Relations Board.
Wayne Madsen Report, Labor pick Acosta part of Epstein-Trump underage sex crime cover-up, Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), Feb. 17, 2017 (subscription required). Alexander Acosta, President Trump's pick to replace failed nominee Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary, has his own political baggage stemming from his actions as U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida in the sweetheart plea deal involving billionaire pederast Jeffrey Epstein.
Acosta agreed to a rather unprecedented non-prosecution agreement (NPA) struck with Epstein and his attorneys on October 30, 2007 that saw the federal government waive any future prosecution of Epstein or any of his associates named or unnamed by underage female sexual abuse victims of Epstein.
New York Times, Labor Nominee’s Role in Sex Case Could Draw Scrutiny, Barry Meier, Feb. 17, 2017. For R. Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s new pick for labor secretary, renewed attention on a salacious lawsuit may not come at a great time. A decade ago, Mr. Acosta, the United States attorney in Miami at the time, played a role in what critics said was a lenient plea deal given to a wealthy New Yorker, Jeffrey E. Epstein, who was accused of paying underage girls for sexual massages.
Now, as senators consider Mr. Acosta’s nomination for a cabinet position, the sordid details of Mr. Epstein’s case are set to receive another public airing. The setting will be a federal courtroom in Manhattan, where a trial is expected to start in the spring in a defamation lawsuit brought against one of Mr. Epstein’s associates, Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the British publishing mogul Robert Maxwell.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by Virginia L. Giuffre, who said she was one of Mr. Epstein’s victims. Ms. Giuffre has accused Ms. Maxwell of helping to procure underage girls to engage in sexual activities with Mr. Epstein. In the suit, Ms. Giuffre contends that Ms. Maxwell has defamed her by calling those accusations “untrue” and “obvious lies.” (The photo at left shows Prince Andrew, Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell.)
Ms. Maxwell, in turn, argues that she had the right to publicly defend herself against Ms. Giuffre’s accusations. The trial, if it proceeds, will probably produce a stream of headlines about sex-trafficking, and could renew scrutiny of Mr. Acosta’s role in Mr. Epstein’s plea deal.
The matter goes back to 2005, when Mr. Acosta was the top federal prosecutor in Miami. Police detectives in Palm Beach, Fla., where Mr. Epstein had a home, discovered that women working for him were finding teenage girls to give him sexual massages. Some of the girls were 15 or younger, the authorities said.
Mr. Epstein hired a top-tier defense team that included Alan M. Dershowitz. After meeting with the defense lawyers, a state prosecutor recommended that Mr. Epstein be charged only with a misdemeanor.
The Palm Beach police chief was so angry about the proposal that he wrote a letter to the Justice Department asking that it get involved in the case.
Mr. Epstein’s lawyers eventually struck a deal under which he agreed to plead guilty in a Florida court to one count of soliciting prostitution and another of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution.
As part of the agreement, Mr. Acosta’s office agreed not to bring federal charges against Mr. Epstein or any of his potential co-conspirators, court papers show.
The deal has since been denounced by critics as an example of the way that prosecutors buckle to pressure brought by high-powered lawyers on behalf of a wealthy client. Mr. Acosta has defended the agreement as the toughest one prosecutors could get based on the evidence they had at the time.
As a cabinet nominee, Mr. Acosta may soon face questions about that decision. And Ms. Giuffre and her lawyers have not shied away from publicity.
In 2014, Ms. Giuffre, whose maiden name was Virginia Roberts, accused Mr. Dershowitz, the lawyer, of having sex with her when she was a teenager, an allegation he adamantly denied. The accusation led to a series of legal actions between Mr. Dershowitz and Ms. Giuffre’s lawyers that were settled last year.
Politico, Trump’s Labor nominee oversaw ‘sweetheart plea deal’ in billionaire’s underage sex case, Josh Gerstein, Feb. 16, 2017, President Donald Trump's new nominee for secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, could face a grilling in the Senate over claims that — while he was the top federal prosecutor in Miami — he cut a sweetheart plea deal in 2008 with a billionaire investor accused of having sex with dozens of underage girls. As the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, Acosta agreed not to file any federal charges against the wealthy financier, Jeffrey Epstein, if he pled guilty to state charges involving soliciting prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution.
Epstein ultimately received an 18-month sentence in county jail and served about 13 months — treatment that provoked outrage from alleged victims in the case. Soon after the deal was cut in 2008, two women filed suit claiming that the decision to forgo federal prosecution violated a federal law — the Crime Victims Rights Act — because they and other teenagers Epstein paid for sex were never adequately consulted about the plea deal or given an opportunity to object to it.
Acosta is not a party in the suit, which names only the federal government as a defendant. In 2015, lawyers for the women demanded Acosta submit to a deposition in the case. The motion was withdrawn last year as settlement talks in the case went forward, but the case remains pending.
"There is good reason to believe that if the prosecutors had exposed their dealings to scrutiny by Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and other victims, they would not have reached such a sweetheart plea deal," the alleged victims' attorneys wrote in a court filing last year.
Acosta acknowledged to the media in 2011 that he came under extreme pressure from Epstein's high-powered defense team, which included legal heavyweights such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Florida criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
New York Daily News, Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta gave ‘sweetheart deal’ to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Christopher Brennan, Feb. 16, 2017. President Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary is likely to face scrutiny for the “sweetheart” deal he gave to billionaire convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The President named Alexander Acosta as his labor choice Thursday, after previous nominee Andy Puzder backed out over scrutiny of issues including alleged violence in his marriage.
Acosta, the law school dean of Florida International University, is also likely to face controversy for his record as U.S. attorney in Miami from 2005 to 2009. His office prosecuted Epstein, a billionaire financier who admitted to state charges of soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old, and signed off in 2008 on the plea deal to not pursue federal charges in exchange for the state pleas. Epstein served 13 months of an 18-month sentence, though federal statutes against transporting minors for the purposes of sex carry minimum penalties of 10 years.
Two victims in the federal case unhappy with the deal have since sued the feds, saying that their rights under the Crime Victims Rights Act had been violated because they had not been in the loop about the details of a plea deal. A 2014 court filing shows letters from an Epstein lawyer to Acosta in 2007 telling him not to contact the victims in the case, and that lawyers in Acosta’s office waited months after an agreement with the billionaire was reached.
Lawyers for the victims say that the letters show a “conspiracy between the Government and Epstein's attorneys to conceal.”
“There is good reason to believe that if the prosecutors had exposed their dealings to scrutiny by Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2, they would not have reached such a sweetheart deal,” attorney Bradley Edwards wrote in one filing. The suit, filed in 2008, is still ongoing, though a settlement conference was held last summer.
“Our judgment in this case, based on the evidence known at the time, was that it was better to have a billionaire serve time in jail, register as a sex offender and pay his victims restitution than risk a trial with a reduced likelihood of success,” Acosta wrote in a 2011 letter, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The U.S. Attorney's Office in South Florida told the Daily News that it would not comment.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Acosta's involvement with the Epstein case. Before the former Bear Sterns executive was prosecuted, Epstein was connected to powerful people including former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. The registered sex offender also knew Trump, and the future President was quoted in New York magazine in 2002 as saying “I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy … He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” An unidentified Trump associated told Politico in 2015 that the President and Epstein were never particularly close.
NBC News, Trump to Announce Alexander Acosta as New Labor Secretary Pick, Peter Alexander and Ali Vitali, Feb. 16, 2017. President Donald Trump is set to announce Alexander Acosta as his new pick to head the Department of Labor, less than a day after his first choice for the job, Andy Puzder, withdrew from consideration. Acosta served as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush, selected by the president in August 2003.
Acosta was a member of the National Labor Relations Board and also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division. Most recently, he was the dean of Florida International University College of Law.
If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Hispanic in Trump's cabinet. Puzder, Trump's first pick withdrew after struggling to gain traction for his nomination.
According to Wikipedia:
Acosta is a native of Miami, Florida, where he attended the Gulliver Schools. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard College and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Following law school, Acosta served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, then a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, from 1994 to 1995. Acosta then worked at the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he specialized in employment and labor issues.
While Acosta served as U.S. Attorney, the Southern District prosecuted a number of high-profile defendants, including Jack Abramoff for fraud, José Padilla for terrorism, and Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr. for torture, (the first torture case of its kind in the U.S.).
The District also targeted white collar crime, prosecuting several bank-related cases, including one against Swiss bank UBS. The case resulted in UBS paying $780 million in fines, and for the first time in history, the bank provided the United States with the names of individuals who were using secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid U.S. taxes.
Other notable cases during his tenure include the corruption prosecution of Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti, Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne; the conviction of Cali Cartel founders Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, for the importation of 200,000 kilos of cocaine, which resulted in a $2.1 billion forfeiture; and the white-collar crime prosecutions of executives connected to Hamilton Bank.
Heavy News.com, R. Alexander Acosta: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Brendan Morrow, Feb. 16, 2017. Alexander Acosta is Donald Trump’s pick to be the next U.S. secretary of labor, the president announced in a press conference today. This comes after Trump’s original pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration. According to Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, the other finalists for the position were Catherine Templeton, former secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for South Carolina; Joseph Guzman, a professor at Michigan State University; and Peter Kirsanow, a private attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Here’s what you need to know about Alexander Acosta.
1. He Is a Former Member of the National Labor Relations Board. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Alexander Acosta clerked for Judge Samuel Alito on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for a year before going to work at the Washington, D.C. office of the Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Acosta then served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board from December 17th, 2002 through August 21st, 2003. Acosta was appointed to that position by President George W. Bush. According to Acosta’s biography on the Florida International University website, he authored over 125 opinions while serving on the board.
3. He Served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta’s most high profile role to date was his position as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. One case Acosta oversaw during his time in this position involved Ali Shaygan, a doctor who was accused of illegally prescribing painkillers. Shaygan was acquitted, but what was notable about this case was that it was discovered during the proceedings that three prosecutors and a Drug Enforcement Administration official had secretly recorded conversations with Shaygan’s attorney, David O. Markus. At the time, Acosta said that he was taking steps to ensure this did not happen again.
“I’ve called each of our new employees into my office on the day they are hired, and told them their job is to do justice,” Acosta told Fox News. “Their job is not to win at all costs.”
Acosta, the U.S. attorney’s office and the trial attorneys were reprimanded by Miami Federal Judge Alan Gold. Gold also ordered the attorney’s office to pay Shaygan $600,000 in legal fees, although an appeals court later reversed these sanctions and said that Gold had violated the prosecutors’ due process rights by issuing that public reprimand, according to the Miami Herald. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Miami Herald, Trump’s labor pick is FIU law dean and a former Miami U.S. attorney, Jay Weaver, Patricia Mazzei and Nicholas Nehamas, Feb. 16, 2017. When the Justice Department named R. Alexander Acosta the new U.S. attorney in South Florida in 2005, he was largely an unknown to federal prosecutors in Miami. Many viewed him with suspicion because he had never tried any criminal cases, and some feared he would carry the torch of the arch-conservative bosses that President George W. Bush had picked to run the Justice Department — John Ashcroft and his successor, Alberto Gonzales.
Acosta, who grew up in Miami, had lost touch with his roots after attending Harvard University and pursuing a career in Washington. But the Republican gradually reconnected with South Florida, won over his skeptics and gained the respect of leaders in the local legal and law enforcement establishment. On Thursday, President Donald Trump nominated the 48-year-old Acosta, currently the dean of Florida International University’s law school, to be his labor secretary. The smarts and pragmatism Acosta displayed in his legal career, his friends and allies say, will likely help pave the way for his Senate confirmation.
“He has had a tremendous career,” Trump said. “He will be a tremendous secretary of labor.” Trump made the announcement from the White House East Room. Acosta could not be reached for comment Thursday, and his voice mail was full.
Trump’s initial choice to lead the Labor Department, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, failed to gain enough support in the Republican-led Senate and withdrew his nomination Wednesday.
Things look more promising for Acosta. Miami lawyer Jeffrey Sloman, a Democrat who worked as Acosta’s first assistant in the U.S. attorney’s office from 2006-09, described him as a “brilliant and creative leader who I think will have broad support from both sides of the aisle.”
Acosta, who is Cuban American and Republican, would be the first and only Hispanic in Trump’s Cabinet, and the third Cuban-American Cabinet secretary in history, after Mel Martinez and Carlos Gutierrez. Acosta’s full name is Rene Alexander Acosta; he goes by Alex. He’s married to Jan, has two children and lives in Coral Gables.
Praise for Acosta’s nomination poured in from South Florida’s congressional delegation Thursday. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who dined privately with Trump on Wednesday night, called Acosta a “phenomenal choice.”
“I look forward to his confirmation hearing, where I’m confident he will impress my colleagues and secure the support necessary to be the next secretary of labor,” Rubio said in a statement.
Miami’s three Republican members in Congress — U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — extolled Acosta’s experience and personality. “He is a man of great principle, integrity, and courage, and I am confident he will do an excellent job serving our nation,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement released even before Trump formally nominated Acosta.
Acosta has already been confirmed by the Senate three times in his career but his record, in a bitterly divided Washington, will now be intensely scrutinized.
His work as the Justice Department’s top civil-rights attorney in a 2004 Ohio voting rights case could be a likely target. It was raised by critics opposing him as a candidate for the law school dean at the University of Florida. His office also signed off on a controversial deal not to prosecute billionaire Palm Beach financier Jeffrey Epstein, who socialized with Trump, on sex trafficking charges.
Wayne Madsen Report, Trump's Jane, Tiffany, and Joan Doe problem, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 8, 2017 (subscription required and excerpted with permission). President Trump has a problem hanging over his head.
During the presidential campaign, Trump and his phalanx of attorneys pressured a California woman to drop her lawsuit against Trump and convicted Palm Beach, Florida pederast Jeffrey Epstein for sexually assaulting her when she was 13 years old.
On September 30, 2016, just a little over a month before the election that swept Trump into the presidency, "Jane Doe" sued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Trump and Epstein for "rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery intentional and reckless infliction of emotional duress, duress, false imprisonment, and defamation."
Jane Doe, who was 13-years of age at the time, alleged that Trump and Epstein, in addition to the sexual assaults, threatened her with "death and/or serious bodily injury" if she told anyone about the sexual assaults and rapes. Jane Doe said the assaults occurred during the summer of 1994 at several parties held at Epstein's residence, known as the "Wexner Mansion," located at 9 E. 71st St. in Manhattan's Upper East Side bordering on Central Park.
Billionaire businessman Les Wexner was instrumental in launching Epstein's lucrative career. Wexner founded a retail empire that included Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Lane Bryant, Lerner New York, The Limited, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Express. Wexner is a major donor to Republican candidates and Israeli causes.
"Tiffany Doe," described in the suit as an "employee" of Epstein, validated Jane Doe's claims as a sworn witness. Jane Doe said Tiffany Doe recruited her in June 1994 while she was waiting for a bus at the New York Port Authority bus station to return home after an attempt to start a modeling career. Tiffany Doe invited her to the Epstein parties and said the influential people who were there could help her with her modeling career and would also pay her for her attendance at the parties.
Daily Mail Online, Trump's 13-year-old 'rape victim' dramatically DROPS her case. Woman withdraws legal claim she was assaulted at Jeffrey Epstein sex party, Ryan Parry, Nov. 4, 2016. The woman who alleged that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's notorious 'sex parties' in 1994 when she was a 13-year-old has dropped the civil lawsuit that was filed against him.
Trump's legal team branded the allegations 'disgusting at the highest level' and a 'hoax' clearly framed to 'solicit media attention or, perhaps... simply politically motivated.' She first sued Trump and Jeffrey Epstein under the name Katie Johnson on April 26 in California federal court and filed an amended complaint in New York federal court in October, claiming she was subject to rape, criminal sexual acts, assault, battery and false imprisonment.The court papers offer no corroborative evidence that her claims are true.
Jezebel, Woman Accusing Donald Trump of Raping Her At 13 Fails To Appear At Planned Press Conference, Anna Merlan, Nov. 2, 2016. A woman alleging that Donald Trump raped her at 13 at a sex party hosted by notorious celebrity pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was supposed to speak publicly for the first time today, but didn’t appear. The woman was due to appear at a press conference in Los Angeles with celebrity attorney and TV star Lisa Bloom. Instead, Bloom came out alone and said the woman was too afraid to speak.
Huffington Post, Why The New Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored, Lisa Bloom, Nov. 2, 2016. Lisa Bloom (shown in a file photo) is an attorney, author and longtime legal news commentator, currently working for NBC TV and Avvo. An anonymous “Jane Doe” filed a federal lawsuit against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump last week, accusing him of raping her in 1994 when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media ignored the filing.
In covering a story, a media outlet is not finding guilt. It is simply reporting the news that a lawsuit has been filed against Mr. Trump, and ideally putting the complaint in context. Unproven allegations are just that - unproven, and should be identified that way. (Mr. Trump’s lawyer says the charges are “categorically untrue, completely fabricated and politically motivated.”) Proof comes later, at trial. But the November election will come well before any trial. And while Mr. Trump is presumed innocent, we are permitted — no, we are obligated — to analyze the case’s viability now.'
No outsider can say whether Mr. Tump is innocent or guilty of these new rape charges. But we can look at his record, analyze the court filings here, and make a determination as to credibility — whether the allegations are believable enough for us to take them seriously and investigate them, keeping in mind his denial and reporting new facts as they develop.
I have done that. And the answer is a clear “yes.” These allegations are credible. They ought not be ignored. Mainstream media, I’m looking at you.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Is Accused Of Raping A 13-Year-Old. Why Haven’t The Media Covered It? Ryan Grim, Nov. 2, 2016. There are two big reasons. If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter in the past several months, you’re probably aware that there is a case working its way through the courts that accuses Donald Trump of forcibly raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994.
On Wednesday, the woman, who remains anonymous, will appear at a press conference with her new attorney, Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred. Bloom wrote a column about the case in The Huffington Post last summer. For months, people have wondered why this case isn’t getting more ― or, really, any ― attention in the press, even now that Trump faces an actual court date: a Dec. 16 status conference with the judge.
Media outlets who have tried to get in touch with Johnson have had extreme difficulty doing so. The Daily Beast did a deep dive into the case and the people supporting the accuser in July, and came to a devastating conclusion: “Far from derailing the Trump train, Katie Johnson and her supporters seem to be in an out-of-control clown car whose wheels just came off,” wrote Brandy Zadrozny.
The Guardian and Jezebel also looked into the situation and came up with equally unfavorable takes. If you’re still struggling to understand why the story didn’t get more coverage, imagine for a moment that you’re a reporter thinking about spending weeks looking into it. Then go read the Daily Beast article. Still ready to go down that rabbit hole?
But as the reality of the court date increasingly dawns on the press, coupled with Trump’s own admission that he sexually assaults women, the case is getting harder to ignore. Baer said that two media outlets have recently done interviews with Johnson, and stories could pop at any minute.
Daily Beast, Trump Rape Accusers Turn On Each Other, Brandy Zadrozny, July 21, 2016. As Donald Trump seizes the nomination, chaos is erupting among the motley crew who supported a woman’s claims that Trump and Jeffery Epstein raped her as a 13-year-old.