Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned Friday morning amid the fallout over his handling of a sex-trafficking case involving billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“I called the president this morning and told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside,” Acosta said in a joint appearance with President Trump at the White House.
He said he didn’t want the Epstein case to distract from the Trump administration’s accomplishments, including the strong economy.
The president said the secretary called him earlier in the morning to inform him of his decision.
Trump told reporters before departing for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that Acosta was a “great labor secretary, not a good one,” adding that Acosta did a “very good job.”
Acosta was a federal prosecutor in South Florida when he was involved in a 2008 sweetheart plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid prosecution on federal charges of molesting teenage girls.
The hedge fund manager pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months behind bars and registered as a sex offender.
Acosta’s role in the Epstein case came under renewed scrutiny after federal prosecutors in New York filed similar charges this week against Epstein, who pleaded not guilty.
The president said earlier this week that he felt “very badly” for Acosta.
“I met Secretary Acosta the first time I know when I made the deal to bring him into the administration. I can tell you that for two and a half years he’s been just an excellent secretary of labor,” Trump said Tuesday.
“He’s done a fantastic job,” the president said as he credited Acosta with helping boost the economy.
On Tuesday, Trump also distanced himself from Epstein, saying he was “not a fan” and that the former pals had a “falling out” years ago.