Labor Secretary Alex Acosta described his relationship with President Trump as “outstanding” Wednesday amid escalating scrutiny over his role in a lenient deal reached for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in 2008.
Acosta held a press conference at the Labor Department amid scrutiny over his role in reaching a 13-month prison sentence deal for Epstein back in 2008 when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida. Epstein’s sentence involved a work-release program that allowed him to come and go from jail during the day.
Acosta also denied reports that he and White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney are at odds.
“My relationship with the President is outstanding. He has, I think made it very publicly clear that I’ve got his support. He spoke yesterday in the Oval Office, he and I have spoken,” he said. “I keep reading about articles about my relationship between me and Mr. Mulvaney. And he called me this morning to say, in fact, that our relationship is excellent too and any article to the contrary are, in his words, ‘BS.'”
Later on during the press conference, Acosta added the caveat that he knows he serves at the “pleasure of the President” and would “respect” Trump’s decision if he decided to give him the boot.
“If at some point the President decides that I am not the best person to do this job, I respect that, that is his choice,” he said. “I serve at the pleasure of the President. I thought yesterday he was kind and he showed great support. … If at some point he says, ‘look, you’re not the right person for this right now or you’re standing in the way,’ I respect that.”
Epstein was arrested and charged with running a sex trafficking ring with underage girls in the early 2000s. This week, federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein with alleged child sex trafficking.
Politico reported this week that Acosta’s future in the administration depends on how long he stays in the news. President Trump stood by Acosta on Tuesday, saying he feels bad for the Cabinet official.
Acosta: It's "BS" that me and Mick Mulvaney are at odds pic.twitter.com/59N1vScvwr
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 10, 2019