Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta on Wednesday defended a 2008 plea deal made when he was a U.S. attorney in Florida with Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier accused of yearslong sex trafficking of minors.
Acosta argued that it was his office that secured jail time for Epstein as the state attorney's office was ready to let him walk free without having to register as a sex offender. Acosta said taking the case to trial would be a roll of the dice and he preferred securing a plea agreement.
"We believe that we proceeded appropriately," Acosta said. "That's based on the evidence, and not just my opinion. But I've shared the affadavit, based on the evidence there was value to getting a guilty plea and having him register."
"Facts are important and facts are being overlooked," he said.
Acosta said it is difficult to say if he does not have any regrets, but that he would not make the same deal today as "we live in a very different world."
"Today's world treats victims very, very differently. Today's world does not allow some of the victim shaming that could have taken place at trial," he said.
"Look, no regrets is a very hard question," Acosta said. "At my confirmation hearing I was asked a similar question, and one of the issues that I raised is we expect a lot more transparency today. As you watch these victim interviews, it's very obvious that the victims feel that this was not a sufficient outcome."