Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta speaks to reporters — live updates

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

CBSN

Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will brief and take questions from reporters at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, as he faces intense scrutiny and criticism over his handling of the Florida case against previously convicted sex offender billionaire Jeffrey Epstein when Acosta was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District.

Acosta has come under scrutiny again after Epstein was arrested on new sex trafficking charges in New York, and investigators say they found inappropriate images of underage girls. Acosta has defended his handling of a 2008 plea deal that gave Epstein only 13 months in a county jail, which he was allowed to leave six days a week for work.

The House Oversight Committee has invited Acosta to testify on the plea deal on July 23. Acosta has yet to respond.

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"The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence," Acosta tweeted Wednesday.

Mr. Trump has defended Acosta's work as labor secretary, but suggested Tuesday his administration is looking "very carefully" at Acosta's previous handling of Epstein. The president himself has faced questions over his relationship with Epstein, since the two billionaire used to interact and Epstein used to visit Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago club.

"I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him," Mr. Trump said of Epstein Tuesday. "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 — 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," the president continued. "I was not a fan of his. So, I feel very badly for 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."

The news conference is at 2:30 p.m. at the Department of Labor, and can be watched above at that time.

First published on July 10, 2019 / 1:44 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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