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House Democrats want investigation into Alex Acosta's secret deal with Jeffrey Epstein

Trump Cabinet member offered sex offender sweetheart deal

Fifteen House Democrats signed a letter calling for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice to investigate actions taken by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta when he was a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, after a Miami Herald report revealed that Acosta once helped secure a non-prosecution deal for a wealthy serial sex offender.

According to the Miami Herald investigation, Jeffrey Epstein, a millionaire hedge fund manager, faced a 53-page indictment in 2007 for arranging a network of underage girls and coercing them into performing sex acts in his Florida mansion, and for trafficking minor girls for sex parties in his homes in other parts of the country. Epstein could have faced a life sentence.

Instead, Acosta and one of Epstein's lawyers, Jay Lefkowitz, agreed to a non-prosecution plea deal wherein Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in state court and served just 13 months in prison. Epstein and four co-conspirators received immunity from federal prosecution, and the deal also granted immunity to unnamed "potential co-conspirators." Acosta agreed to have the deal sealed until after it was approved by a judge, preventing any of the victims from learning about the deal.

A last-minute settlement was reached Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit involving Epstein, clearing the way for the victims' lawyers to try to unravel a once-secret agreement that prevented federal criminal prosecution of the financier.

During his confirmation hearings at the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., was the only senator to ask Acosta about the plea deal with Epstein.

Many of the House Democrats who signed the letter asking for an investigation represent districts in Florida. According to a statement from one of the signatories, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the American people and "the victims of these horrific crimes deserve to know why justice was not served in this disturbing case, and the lack of transparency still cloaking it is very troubling.