(CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’ll be looking “very carefully” at the role that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta played in a 2007 immunity deal for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged this week with sex trafficking underage girls.
Acosta served as a U.S. attorney in 2007 and oversaw a plea agreement that shielded him from federal prosecution for sexually abusing young girls but allowed him to plead guilty to lesser state charges.
Speaking to reporters before a bilateral meeting with the emir of Qatar, Amir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Trump was asked whether he had full confidence in Acosta right now and in the future.
“Well, you know, I met Secretary Acosta -- the first time, I know -- when I made the deal to bring him on into the administration. I can tell you that for two and a half years he’s been just an excellent Secretary of Labor. He’s done a fantastic job. Now, part of it is our economy is so good. Our unemployment numbers are at record low,” Trump said.
“You know, so many good things are happening, but the fact is he’s been a very good secretary of Labor. What happened 12 or 15 years ago with respect to when he was a U.S. Attorney, I think in Miami -- is it Miami?” the president asked.
“Yeah. Southern District of Florida,” a reporter replied.
“You know, if you go back and look at everybody else’s decisions, whether it’s a U.S. attorney or an Assistant U.S. attorney or a judge -- you go back 12 or 15 years ago or 20 years ago, and look at their past decisions, I would think you'd probably find that they would wish they’d maybe did it a different way. I do hear that there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him,” Trump said.
“I can only say this: From what I know -- and what I do know is that he’s been a great -- really great Secretary of Labor. The rest of it we’ll have to look at. We’ll have to look at it very carefully, but you’re talking about a long time ago. And again, it was a decision made, I think, not by him but by a lot of people. So we’re going to look at it very carefully. We’ll be looking at that very carefully,” he said.
When asked whether the president still thinks Epstein is a “terrific guy,” Trump said, “Well, I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. I mean, people in Palm Beach knew him. He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan.”
“What was all that about?” a reporter asked.
“I was not -- yeah, a long time ago. I’d say maybe 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you. I was not a fan of his. So I feel very badly, actually, for Secretary Acosta because I’ve known him as being somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job. I feel very badly about that whole situation, but we’re going to be looking at that and looking at it very closely,” Trump said.
“We’re also going to be signing a big contract in a little while, so we’re going to see you in a little while in a different room, in a different part of the White House where we’re going to be signing up a big deal with Boeing,” he said.