Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said Friday he will resign amid controversy over the way he handled a sex crimes case against wealthy businessman Jeffrey Epstein a decade ago when he was U.S. attorney for southern Florida.
Acosta made the announcement to reporters while standing next to President Donald Trump outside the White House. Trump said Acosta had called him Friday morning and that it was Acosta’s decision to quit.
“This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said in a lengthy exchange with the press before departing the White House en route to events in Wisconsin and Ohio. “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this.'”
President Donald Trump talks to reporters next to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta as he departs for travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 12, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Acosta told reporters that he did not want his involvement in Epstein’s controversy to overshadow the administration’s accomplishments. Acosta said he will officially resign a week after his announcement. Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take his place in an acting capacity, Trump said.
In his resignation letter to Trump, Acosta said, “It has meant so much to me that you have offered your steadfast support in our private discussions and in your public remarks.” But “your agenda, putting the American people first, must avoid any distractions,” Acosta wrote.
The resignation came two days after Acosta gave a news conference in which he defended a controversial non-prosecution agreement he had made with Epstein’s lawyers in 2007, when Acosta was the top prosecutor in Miami.
The issue resurfaced on July 6, when the politically connected Epstein, whose friends have included Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested on sex trafficking charges by federal prosecutors in New York.
Epstein is accused of luring dozens of underage girls to his Manhattan mansion to give him massages that escalated into sex acts. He is charged in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
Epstein had long been under investigation by both federal and local law enforcement for sex crimes against underage girls that took place from 2002 to 2005 in New York and Florida.
Acosta, as a U.S. attorney, struck a secret plea deal with Epstein allowing him to avoid federal prosecution on similar charges.
Epstein was required to register as a sex offender and ended up serving a custodial sentence of 13 months in jail, where he was allowed out during the day on work release.
U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via REUTERS.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services | Handout | Reuters
Even Acosta expressed frustration with the lax punishment Epstein received. “The work release was complete BS,” Acosta said in Wednesday’s news conference. He said that his office intended for Epstein to carry out all of his sentence, which he expected to be 18 months, behind bars.
In those remarks, Acosta maintained that his office at the time was “trying to do the right thing for these victims.”
“We believe we proceeded appropriately,” Acosta said. “We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail.”
The non-prosecution agreement struck between Epstein and Acosta’s office was also concealed from the victims in the case. A Florida judge ruled in February 2019 that the team of Miami prosecutors led by Acosta broke the law when they hid the deal from the more than 30 underage victims who had allegedly been sexually abused by Epstein.
At the time, then-press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the administration was “looking into the matter” but did not speculate on what was in store for Acosta.
“My understanding is that’s a very complicated case … but that they made the best possible decision and deal they could have gotten at that time,” she said.
On Tuesday, Acosta tried to justify past decisions in the Epstein case. “The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Acosta tweeted.
“With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.”
“Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”
Acosta was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in 2005 by George W. Bush. He previously served on the National Labor Relations Board and led the civil rights division of the Justice Department under Bush.
He was dean of the law school at Florida International University when he was tapped as Labor secretary by Trump in 2017. He was the first Hispanic in the Cabinet and the only one serving as of January 2019.
“He has had a tremendous career,” Trump said at a press conference announcing the appointment. “I’ve wished him the best; we just spoke. I think he’ll be a tremendous secretary of Labor.”
Read Acosta’s resignation letter to Trump below:
Europe is at odds over who will replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
European officials are still scratching their heads over Christine Lagarde’s successor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, with no standout candidate for the role.
Lagarde is due to start her new job as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November, leaving the IMF’s chair empty. In Europe, EU member states agree that the next IMF managing director needs to be from the continent — but they’re struggling to rally behind one particular name.
“The truth is that there is no readily available tried and tested European all-rounder,” a European minister, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC.
There is no official shortlist of candidates, but many governments of EU nations have put forward a name to take the top job. Some of the non-official candidates are:
- Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup (which brings together the 19-euro zone finance ministers).
- Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and currently Eurogroup chief.
- Nadia Calvino, the Spanish finance minister.
- Olli Rehn, central bank governor of Finland and former European commissioner for the euro.
- Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England — a Canadian citizen who also has Irish and English passports.
- Kristalina Georgieva, from Bulgaria, who is currently serving as chief executive of the World Bank.
- Mario Draghi, the outgoing ECB president.
According to two other European officials, who also preferred to remain anonymous, none of the candidates have the right profile at this stage. Some names also don’t have enough experience or they are not liked by certain governments due to their political affiliation, their past comments or their background, the officials told CNBC. Since the IMF’s formation back in 1945, the managing director has always been from Europe.
There is also an age restriction to deal with. The IMF’s rules state that managing directors must be under 65 years of age when appointed and cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday. As such, the chances of certain candidates, such as Kristalina Georgieva, become much smaller.
“If (the) age limit is adapted to today’s realities, there is Georgieva and Draghi,” the European minister told CNBC.
France, who’s chairing the discussions across the different EU capitals, is reportedly looking at ways to change the laws. However, it is unclear whether that idea would be approved inside the IMF.
A source within the French government told CNBC that Paris “does not have a preferred candidate and will play its coordination role impartially.” Meanwhile, a separate EU official confirmed to CNBC that the aim is to have an agreement by the end of the month.
EU has 35 billion euro list ready if US hits EU cars: EU trade chief
European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.
Eric Vidal | Reuters
The European Union would retaliate with extra duties on 35 billion euros ($39.1 billion) worth of U.S. goods if Washington went ahead with tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said on Tuesday.
“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament.
“It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one,” she continued.
GE reveals new parts for the ‘world’s largest offshore wind turbine’
GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Paris, revealed “the first manufactured components” for its gigantic Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.
On Monday, the firm displayed the first nacelle for the turbine, which will now be shipped from Saint-Nazaire in France to Rotterdam-Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. A nacelle sits directly behind a turbine’s blades and is a shell-like structure that contains crucial pieces of kit. These include the turbine’s gearbox, controller, generator and brake.
GE Renewable Energy said that a prototype of the Haliade-X 12 MW would be installed onshore in the Netherlands in order to “simplify access for testing.” Another nacelle is being assembled with a view to testing it in “actual operational conditions” at a site in the U.K.
John Lavelle, the CEO of GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said the firm was “on track to start commercializing this new product very shortly.”
As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a major player in the sector, launched the first commercially available double digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.
The scale of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is also considerable. It will have a capacity of 12 megawatts, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. The turbine will generate 67 gigawatt hours of gross annual energy. The company has repeatedly described it as “the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”
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