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Amy Klobuchar: "Acosta should step down"

Democratic candidate for president responds to case against Jeffrey Epstein

July 09, 2019 - 1:23 pm

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would be looking “very closely” at Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s handling of a sex trafficking case involving billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, though he also praised Acosta’s Cabinet work.

Now, Minnesota Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says in a tweet she thinks Acosta should step down.  

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"Since when do underage girl sex ring traffickers get to go to their office every day while they serve their time? The victims should have had a say. That’s what the law says. I didn’t vote for former Florida U.S. Attorney Acosta to begin with and he should step down," the tweet said. 

The comments came as a parade of presidential contenders and other top Democrats demanded that Acosta, a former federal prosecutor in south Florida, resign or be fired over his role in the secret 2008 plea deal that let Epstein, a wealthy financier, avoid federal prison after allegations of molesting teenage girls. Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served 13 months in jail, during which he was allowed out to go to his office during the day.

That arrangement has drawn renewed attention since federal prosecutors in New York unveiled an indictment Monday charging Epstein with sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s.

Trump has his own history with Epstein, though he said Tuesday they’d had “a falling out” and hadn’t been in contact for about 15 years.

In 2002, Trump told New York magazine that he’d known the now-jailed billionaire for 15 years and considered him “a terrific guy” who enjoyed women “on the younger side.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday Trump must explain his comments.

“The president needs to answer for this, and ‘I don’t recall’ is not an acceptable answer in this case, particularly since President Trump appointed Acosta to such a powerful position,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.

Trump, questioned on Tuesday, said he felt “very badly” for Acosta because he’s been a “very good” secretary of labor. But the president also said repeatedly that the White House would be looking deeper into the issue. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said the White House was looking into Acosta’s role in the settlement back in February.

Acosta also weighed in on the Epstein charges for the first time, saying in a series of tweets that new evidence emerging in New York “offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.” He said Epstein’s actions were “horrific” and expressed pleasure that prosecutors in New York were presenting a new case, but he made no mention of the calls for him to step down.

The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this story. 

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