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Trump Defends Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Even as He Resigns in Shame

Trump defends Alex Acosta in front of reporters outside the White House.

Alexander Acosta has resigned as from his position as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary, a job he never should have had in the first place.

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This came just days after Acosta held a press conference in which he defended his role in getting convicted child abuser Jeffrey Epstein a ludicrously light plea agreement back in 2007. Despite his claim to reporters that he was “not here to send any signal to the president,” the hour-long press conference seemed to essentially be a chance for him to argue publicly why Trump shouldn’t make him resign.

It didn’t go very well. He refused to offer an apology to Epstein’s victims but also, given the subject he was speaking on, couldn’t offer the sort of aggressive attacks Trump likes to see in his lackeys. So for an hour, Acosta basically said nothing.

And now he’s resigned. From a job he never should have had. Which he appears to have likely gotten only thanks to decades of power-hungry favor-trading. But the negative press over the last few days, since Epstein was arrested again and Acosta has been back in the headlines for his shady dealings, has reportedly angered Trump.

Still, he accompanied Acosta to announce the resignation to reporters today and he insisted–perhaps too heavily–that this was Acosta’s idea. “This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said. He then went on to list Acosta’s great qualities, saying, bizarrely, “He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard, a great student.”

Trump touting Acosta as “a Hispanic man” is peak he’s one of the good ones with a hearty dash of I can’t be racist, some of my best friends are x. It’s such a weird non-sequitur, what do you even do with that?

Trump didn’t just praise Acosta’s character and his heritage; he also defended him against scrutiny for his role in Epstein’s deal. Even more, he offered up misinformation on why Acosta is facing criticism. “He made a deal that people were happy with and then 12 years later, they’re not happy with it,” he said, telling the press, “You’ll have to figure all of that out.”

By the “people” who were happy with that deal, Trump has to mean Jeffrey Epstein himself, because one giant reason Acosta is facing scrutiny is that, according to the findings of reporter Julie K. Brown, Acosta did not inform Epstein’s victims of the deal he proposed to the defendant, despite his legal obligation to do so. Brown spoke to Epstein’s accusers, who, as she reported last year, “believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them.” They felt that at the time and they feel that now.

Meanwhile, twelve more women have come forward to accuse Epstein of grooming, trafficking, and rape. A hearing for his new case is scheduled for Monday.

(image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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