The Latest: Trump says he’ll look into Acosta’s Epstein link
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on developments related to the sex trafficking case against financier Jeffrey Epstein (all times local):
President Donald Trump says he'll look "very closely" at Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's handling of a sex trafficking case involving billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Trump says he feels "very badly" for Acosta because he's been a "very good" secretary.
Acosta was a federal prosecutor in south Florida when he was involved in a 2008 plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid prosecution on federal charges of molesting teenage girls. He pleaded guilty to state charges and spend 13 months in jail.
Acosta's role in the Epstein case came under renewed scrutiny after federal prosecutors in New York filed similar charges Monday against Epstein. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the newsex trafficking charges.
Some members of Congress and Democratic presidential candidates are calling on Acosta to resign.
Two of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers say they feel empowered after he was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Michelle Licata tells ABC's "Good Morning America" she was crying when she saw the wealthy financier appear in a federal court in Manhattan. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and will remain jailed until at least July 15 when a bail hearing is set on the case.
Licata and another accuser, Courtney Wild, were seated in the courtroom during the hearing.
She says the charges against Epstein are "overwhelmingly past due."
Wild says she has been pursuing justice against Epstein for years. She filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice in 2008.
The suit is seeking to make the details of Epstein's secret plea deal public.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta says charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein offer "an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice."
Acosta tweeted Tuesday amid growing calls from congressional Democrats for his resignation.
Acosta was the U.S. attorney in Florida when Epstein cut a secret deal to avoid federal prosecution after allegations he molested dozens of teenage girls.
Epstein was charged Monday in Manhattan for nearly identical allegations. He pleaded not guilty.
Acosta says the plea deal required Epstein to register as a sex offender and he is pleased prosecutors in New York are moving forward with a case "based on new evidence."
The Justice Department said in February that its Office of Professional Responsibility was reviewing the 2008 plea deal.
Attorney General William Barr has consulted with Justice Department ethics officials and will not recuse himself from overseeing the case of billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York.
That's according to a Justice Department official who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
But the official says Barr is recused from any review of a 2008 plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges in Florida. That's because Barr's former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, had previously represented Epstein.
That deal Epstein secretly cut allowed him to avoid federal prosecution for nearly identical allegations.
Epstein was charged Monday in federal court in Manhattan with sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
__ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo
Jeffrey Epstein is challenging victims of his underage sexual abuse in a Florida court, hours after he was indicted on sex trafficking charges in a separate case.
Epstein's lawyer Roy Black filed a response late Monday in a case involving a violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. A Florida federal judge ruled prosecutors improperly failed to consult victims when cutting a non-prosecution plea deal in 2008 that allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser state charges.
Epstein's filing contends the victims go too far in trying to remedy that violation by removing the plea deal's immunity provisions for other people and opening the door for Epstein to be federally prosecuted in Florida again.
This comes after Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
A top adviser to President Donald Trump says Trump hasn't spoken to or had any contact with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein in "years and years and years."
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says Trump told her on Tuesday that he hasn't spoken with or seen Epstein in 10 or 15 years. Conway adds that, like everyone else, the Republican president sees the sex trafficking charges against Epstein as "completely unconscionable and obviously criminal. Disgusting."
Trump told New York magazine in 2002 that he'd known Epstein for 15 years and that Epstein was a "terrific guy" and "a lot of fun to be with."
Federal prosecutors say Epstein paid underage girls for massages and then molested them at his homes in Florida and New York.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges.
Jeffrey Epstein has hobnobbed with some of the world's most powerful people during his jet-setting life. Future President Donald Trump called him a "terrific guy." Former President Bill Clinton praised his intellect and philanthropic efforts and was a frequent flyer aboard his private jet.
But the arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager's interactions with underage girls and about whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.
It's also putting new scrutiny on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was involved in a secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges in 2008.