US Labour Secretary Alex Acosta is resigning following criticism of his handling of a 2008 plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
Mr Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor, made the announcement from the White House Lawn today, as President Donald Trump stood by his side. Acosta said his resignation would be effective in seven days. He added that he didn’t think it was right for his handling of Epstein’s case to distract from his work as secretary of labour.
Trump named Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella as the acting secretary of labour.
Acosta has served in Trump’s cabinet since April 2017. From 2005 through 2009 he was the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida. It was there that he handled Epstein’s first case involving sex with underage girls, which resulted in a punishment that critics say was far too lenient instead of a life sentence.
Democrats had called for Acosta to quit over his handling of the Epstein case. Mr Acosta had been defending the plea deal in a news conference only two days ago. Mr Trump told reporters that the two had spoken on the phone earlier this morning and that it was Mr Acosta’s decision to resign.