Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta defended his plea deal with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein during congressional testimony Wednesday.
While being chastised for his plea deal with Epstein by Democratic Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, Acosta claimed that his team was too aggressive in his pursuit of Epstein. (RELATED: Ben Sasse Calls On DOJ To Prosecute Epstein)
“This matter was appealed all the way up to the deputy attorney general’s office. And not because we weren’t doing enough, but because the contention was that we were too aggressive,” Acosta said.
Epstein reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors including Acosta in 2008 to serve 13 months in prison on a work-release program, in which he pleaded guilty to soliciting underage prostitutes. His work-release program allowed him to spend up to 16 hours a day outside of prison. (RELATED: Alan Dershowitz Targeted By Lawsuit In Jeffrey Epstein Case)
Acosta served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2005-2009 after being appointed by then-President George W. Bush.
Acosta has faced harsh criticism for his role in the plea deal with some in the media calling for him to resign. During his confirmation hearing in 2017, Acosta claimed that because Epstein did jail time and had to register as a sex offender, the plea deal was a “good thing.”
“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within the prosecutor’s office decide that a plea that guarantees that someone goes to jail, that guarantees that someone register generally and that guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,” Acosta said at the time.
Epstein has been accused of molesting roughly 100 underage girls.