More high-profile Democrats are calling on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over the lenient 2007 plea deal given to serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein, when he was the U.S. prosecutor in Florida. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and 2020 candidates including Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders said Acosta should step down. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly urged Trump to fire Acosta. According to Politico, Mulvaney is unhappy with Acosta’s reluctance to dismantle workplace regulations and quash employment discrimination lawsuits.
Secretary Acosta defended the plea deal on Twitter Tuesday and said he was “pleased that New York prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.” No new evidence, many said, has been presented.
Trump, meanwhile, praised Acosta and said he feels “very badly” for him, while distancing himself from Epstein. Trump said he hadn’t spoken to Epstein after a falling-out 15 years ago and that Trump “was not a fan of his.” In 2002, Trump said Epstein was “a terrific guy,” who “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”