House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Tuesday that his committee will “carefully” consider opening an investigation into the 2008 non-prosecution deal that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta – then the US attorney in Miami – struck with multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
The deal has faced renewed scrutiny after Epstein was charged Monday with operating a sex trafficking ring in which he allegedly sexually abused dozens of underage girls. Epstein had faced similar charges in 2008 – with a federal investigation identifying 36 underage abuse victims – when Acosta oversaw a plea deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty to two state prostitution charges and serve only 13 months in prison.
“We will have to consider very carefully opening an investigation,” Nadler told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“We have a lot of things we’re investigating now and, among other things, the President’s misconduct, the torture of children at the border.”
Nadler added: “This will just be added on the list of things we have to investigate.”
Epstein’s arrest Monday has prompted top Democrats to call for Acosta’s resignation this week. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told CNN on Tuesday that Epstein was able to secure a “sweetheart” deal in 2008 because of his wealth and political connections. “This guy was a big, powerful and wealthy guy who got a different kind of justice than everybody else gets,” he said.
President Donald Trump told reporters that Acosta has been an “excellent” labor secretary but that his administration would look “very closely” at the 2008 case.
Acosta took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend his handling of the case. “The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” he said.
Epstein’s 2008 plea deal was the focus of the Miami Herald’s “Perversion of Justice” series this year, which law enforcement officials have credited with helping to guide the investigation that led to Epstein’s arrest.
“We were assisted” by “some excellent investigative journalism,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a Monday morning news conference.
Nadler added Tuesday that the 2008 deal disqualifies Acosta to serve in “any office in the United States.”
“It shows a moral perversion on the part of Acosta himself,” he said.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, Gregory Wallace, Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.