US Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta resigns after criticizing the fact that he negotiated a plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein in a child sex case.
Mr. Acosta, a former Florida attorney, announced Friday that President Donald Trump was standing by his side.
The Democrats had called him to resign for dealing with the Epstein affair.
Mr. Acosta defended the secretly negotiated plea agreement at a press conference just two days ago.
Mr. Acosta was the US Attorney in Miami in 2008 when he had supervised a contract without legal proceedings against Epstein, which allowed him to serve a 13-month sentence of imprisonment. Much of that time was spent liberating labor in his Palm Beach office. Epstein's conduct has become more accurate since his arrest and indictment on Monday for sex trafficking of underage girls.
Mr. Trump told reporters that he and Mr. Acosta had spoken on the phone earlier Friday and that it was Mr. Acosta's decision to withdraw.
"It's him, not me," said Mr. Trump, adding that Mr. Acosta was "an exceptional talent" who "went to Harvard University." Earlier this week, Mr Trump told the press that he felt bad for his secretary at work, but he added that he did not personally know him before hiring him.
Mr. Acosta told reporters: "I do not think it's fair and equitable … to focus on Epstein rather than on the amazing economy we have today."
But he added, "It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and keep talking about a 12-year-old case."
Patrick Pizzella, the current deputy secretary of labor, will become interim secretary when Mr. Acosta officially resigns in a week, Trump said.
On Wednesday, Alex Acosta gave an impartial and irreproachable legal defense of his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case more than a decade ago. This was not enough to save his work. Given the speed with which he left after his performance, it was not even close.
The former US attorney has tried to blame the prosecutors and justify his decisions according to the changing expectations in sex crimes cases. He has never adequately explained why the circumstances of the time required that he offer Epstein such a merciful market or that he seals the damning details of the act of Initial charge, instead of building a more solid case based on further investigation.
The Epstein affair is a perfect storm of scandal and outrage. It combines allegations of sexual crimes with abuse of power and influence in the highest corridors of political and financial power in the United States.
Now the poisonous vortex has claimed its first prominent name. According to the evolution of history, Mr. Acosta might not be the last.
With his departure, the number of temporary positions "temporary" in the government administration Trump rises to four out of 11. The level of imbalance of his administration, whether by scandal, burnout or presidential disadvantage, is extraordinary.
Who is Jeffrey Epstein?
The 66-year-old wealthy financier has been accused of leading a gang of underage prostitutes after his arrest Monday in New Jersey. He has long been surrounded by rich and powerful, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and British Prince Andrew.
In a 2002 magazine article, he said: "I invest in people, whether in politics or science, that's what I do."
On Friday, Mr. Trump repeated "I'm not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein" after declaring earlier that they were arguing "12 or 15 years ago" with him. "I threw him out of a club, I did not want to have anything to do with him," Trump said of the former friend, while Mr. Acosta was standing by his side.
"It shows one thing, I have good taste," he added.
How did Acosta defend the agreement?
"I wanted to help them," Acosta said of the 36 victims identified in the Epstein case, at the hour-long press conference held Wednesday at the Labor Department. .
"That's why we intervened," he said. "And that's what prosecutors in my office did: they insisted that he go to jail and warn the world that he was and is a sexual predator."
Mr. Acosta has not apologized for the handling of the case, stating only that the agreement – which closes the FBI's investigation into the question of whether he there were more victims or perpetrators – was a guarantee of time to imprisonment. He said that asking for a life sentence in a jury trial would have constituted a "roll of the dice".
"We now have 12 years of knowledge and perspective, and we live in a very different world, and the world today is treating victims in a very different way," he said.
What was Epstein's punishment?
The details of the deal overseen by Mr. Acosta were revealed for the first time in a Miami Herald investigation earlier this year, the newspaper claiming that Epstein had received "the approval of an entire life".
He allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges and serve a 13-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges including solicitation of prostitution (including a charge involving a minor under the age of 15). 18 years old).
The Democrats pushed Mr. Acosta to resign. A federal judge found that the agreement violated the law on the rights of victims of crime, because Mr. Acosta had not informed the victims of Epstein of this arrangement.
The agreement is also reviewed by the Ministry of Justice.