Alex Acosta took the podium Wednesday to try to put to rest a controversial plea deal he reached with accused child-sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein when Acosta was the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida in 2007. Much of what Acosta said sounded somewhat reasonable at first blush: Prosecutors do have a great deal of discretion in charging and resolving cases, so assessing the strength of a case against a defendant, whether he is likely to be convicted, weighed against the possibility of a dangerous defendant walking free, are legitimate and important prosecutorial considerations. But they simply don’t hold up here to explain what Acosta did.
When Acosta’s statements are put up against the facts of this case, they are revealed as the self-serving and often nonsensical excuses of someone who utterly failed to do what he swore to do as U.S. attorney: uphold justice. Congress should now hold a hearing at which Acosta testifies under oath about these matters, so that the victims and all Americans can get answers about why Acosta gave Jeffrey Epstein special treatment.
First and foremost, Acosta claimed that he gave Epstein the now-infamous slap-on-the-wrist non-prosecution deal because state prosecutors in Florida had charged Epstein with a single count of prostitution that would have resulted in no jail time. Acosta claimed that he “wanted to help them [Epstein’s victims], that is why we intervened, and that’s what the prosecutors of my office did…. They insisted that he go to jail and put the world on notice that he was and is a sexual predator.”