President Trump on Tuesday defended Labor Secretary Alex Acosta as key Democratic lawmakers demand that he resign over his role in a 2008 plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein, a millionaire hedge-fund manager who was arrested on child sex trafficking charges.
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Acosta has been an "excellent Secretary of Labor," Trump told reporters, adding that and Epstein had a falling out and haven't spoken for 15 years.
"I'm not a fan of his," he said. It's a reversal from 2002 when Trump told New York Magazine that Epstein was a "terrific guy."
"He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life," he said at the time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday called on Acosta to vacate his post, as did Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday.
When asked earlier in the day, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump was “happy” to give Acosta the top spot at the agency and noted that the issue was brought up during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“He answered questions under oath about it,” she told reporters. “It’s Jeffrey Epstein is the one raping young girls and it looks like some of the people who work for him may, of course, be accessories to that or luring them in paying young girls to find other young girls to traffic them.”
In tweets posted on Tuesday, Acosta said he was "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."
Acosta previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and helped coordinate a 2008 plea deal under which Epstein avoided any federal charges, instead serving 13 months in state prison.
"There were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him," Trump said on Tuesday. "We'll have to look at it very carefully. You're talking about a long time ago."
Alongside Acosta, the pressure is intensifying on associates of Epstein, including former President Bill Clinton who traveled on his plane four times between 2002 and 2003.
In a statement on Monday, Clinton denied knowing anything about the alleged illegal behavior with at least 40 underage girls.
“He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and he has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida," said spokesperson Angel Urena.
Epstein on Monday pleaded not guilty to the charges.