Epstein accused of witness tampering in sex trafficking case

Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta

Federal prosecutors in NY accused Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire charged with sex trafficking, of possible witness tampering, saying in a court filing Friday he made $350,000 in payments to two possible co-conspirators after a series of newspaper stories alleged he sexually abused dozens of girls.

"As I look forward, I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labour Department to have Epstein as a focus rather than the incredible economy we have today", Acosta said.

"This was him - not me", Trump said of the resignation decision. "I just want to let you know this is him, not me".

Trump said earlier this week that "a lot" of people were involved in the 2008 case, in addition to Acosta, for whom he felt "badly".

Trump said Friday that deputy Pat Pizzella will took over as acting labour secretary, one of a host of positions now vacant or with officials serving in an acting capacity.

Before he was named a USA attorney, Acosta was an assistant attorney general for the civil rights division in President George W. Bush's first term.

Acosta had attempted to clear his name, and on Wednesday held a news conference - encouraged by Trump - to defend his actions.

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According to police, he confessed that he was at the apartment and moved Cedrick's body to a dumpster in Northeast Dallas. He's black, has black braided hair and brown eyes, and was wearing only a diaper when he was last seen.

In 2015, Epstein's address book was published online by news outlet Gawker, which obtained the book following its appearance in court proceedings after Epstein's former house manager tried to sell it in 2009. He has always been surrounded by the rich and powerful, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and the UK's Prince Andrew.

Top Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates had demanded that Acosta resign.

Epstein, 66, reached the plea deal in Florida in 2008 to secretly end a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed him behind bars for life.

"The other thing is, there is an outstanding claim, a Jane Doe claim that was filed right before the election by a woman in her 30s who said in the 90s when she was 13, Donald Trump raped her in Jeffrey Epstein's townhouse in the upper east side". NY prosecutors said their case involves new evidence and new victims, including a "vast trove of lewd photographs" of young-looking girls. In a 50-plus-minute lawyerly rebuttal, Acosta argued his office had secured the best deal it could at the time and was working in the victims' best interests.

They said the payment, along with $250,000 sent to another person who was a former employee and was named as a possible co-conspirator in the non-prosecution agreement, came after the Miami Herald last November began publishing a series of articles describing the circumstances of his state court conviction in Florida in 2008 and the deal to avoid federal prosecution. Just this past February, a federal judge in Florida ruled Acosta's egregious misstep illegal.

The details of the agreement overseen by Mr Acosta were first revealed in a Miami Herald investigation earlier this year, with the newspaper saying that Epstein had been given "the deal of a lifetime".

"Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [ for confirmation hearings]?" A federal probe of an alleged sex trafficking operation involving underage girls was brought to a close, while Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges involving a single victim.

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