Part II of Series: Did Trump Labor Pick Protect Trump, Rich Rapists, Tax Cheats, Crooked Bankers?
Just because the Trump administration is facing an unprecedented FBI probe into its allegedly corrupt complicity with Russian operatives to win last November’s elections doesn’t mean they should be able to hide evidence of abusive practices and cover-up by President’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.
As nominee Alexander Acosta faces a confirmation hearing Wednesday, senators must place a “hold” on his nomination, not just subject him to questions, unless the senators obtain enough evidence to clear him of allegations stemming from his previous career, particularly as a U.S. attorney in Miami tied to many dubious decisions, including a wrist-slap plea deal for the billionaire pervert Jeffrey Epstein, alleged to have participated in multiple rapes of a 13-year-old with his friend Donald Trump.
That’s our opinion at the Justice Integrity Project in a rare editorial, which is based on our reporting condensed in last week’s column Did Trump Labor Pick Protect Trump, Rich Rapists, Tax Cheats, Crooked Bankers? Do We Find Out Wednesday?
That column and this editorial are part of a multipart series that will continue to examine Acosta’s career.
But the cascade of important news — including revelations before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI is investigating Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election — threaten to push Acosta’s confirmation out of the spotlight where it deserves to be.
That’s especially true given the widespread nature of Acosta’s alleged failings and the president’s own potential complicity as a direct beneficiary of Acosta’s failure to pursue Epstein’s sex ring, which a lawsuit filed last year claimed involved his friend and neighbor Trump in raping and threatening a 13-year-old in 1994. The lawsuit filed by a “Jane Doe,” later identified as a Katie Johnson, was dropped last November after the plaintiff’s attorney said anonymous death threats intimidated the plaintiffs.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State (shown in an official photo), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has promised to grill Acosta on the Epstein prosecution. Acosta-led federal prosecutors agreed with their state counterparts in Florida to let the well-connected billionaire Epstein plead to misdemeanor charges in 2008 even though police had accummulated evidence of his enticement of scores of high school and junior high school girls for sex at his West Palm Beach mansion alone.
But grilling is not enough in this instance. In the face of such serious questions about Acosta, Murray and other senators from both parties should place “a hold,” a temporary prerogative of senators, on the Acosta nomination until they get necessary evidence. That evidence should include evidence from Florida police outraged over the sweetheart plea deal for Epstein, from the withdrawn “Jane Doe” lawsuit, and from key figures in multiple other scandals buried in Acosta’s decision-making.
As precedent, senators and the public can recall that Republican Sen. Dick Shelby of Alabama put a “hold” vast numbers of Obama administration nominees during most of the first six weeks of the Obama presidency in order to extract a promise of fairness from the Obama Defense Department in awarding a $34 billion Air Force tanker contract that Shelby wanted for his largely foreign allies in the military sector who promised to build a reassembly plant in Alabama if the contract were steered away from the incumbent Boeing. If Shelby could create that kind of havoc for that, Murray and her colleagues certainly should pursue truth and justice with at least as much resolve.
Listed below are the names of members of the committee. They are there because the stakes are high and democracy is not a spectator sport. If the kinds of allegations made against Acosta (who like his White House handlers has declined to respond to our requests for comment) do not inspire curiosity at least what would?