Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Senate vote that got Acosta his job as Labor Secretary

Acosta’s plea deal was known to the Senate back in 2017 when he was the Trump pick for Labor. Trump Labor nominee Acosta frustrates Democrats by dodging questions at confirmation hearing, March 22, 2017, in the LA Times.

President Donald Trump’s second nominee for Labor secretary, law school dean R. Alexander Acosta, frustrated Democrats at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday by dodging questions about how he would handle some key workplace rules enacted by the Obama administration.

But Acosta, a former Justice Department official, had strong support from Republicans during the hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and he appeared on track for confirmation.

[snip] There was a lot more about workplace issues raised in the Senate hearing, but the plea deal was raised and questioned.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), questioned Acosta about a plea deal he oversaw that allowed billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to serve only 13 months in jail after being accused of having sex with underage girls. The deal was criticized by some as being too lenient and is the subject of a civil lawsuit by two victims, who want to reopen the case.

Acosta said the pending suit limited what he could say, but he defended the deal. He said that a state grand jury had recommended a single count of solicitation that would not have resulted in any jail time. The plea deal meant Epstein went to jail, had to register as a sexual offender and allowed victims to seek restitution.

Nevertheless, Acosta was confirmed on April 27th on a 60–38–2.

Roll Call Vote 115th Congress - 1st Session Vote Summary
Question: On the Nomination (Confirmation R. Alexander Acosta, of Florida, to be Secretary of Labor )

Every single Republican voted in favor of confirmation of Acosta, and so did 8 Dems: Cortez Masto, Heitkamp, King (Independent), Manchin, McCaskill, Menendez, Nelson, Tester, and Warner.

In the main, those that voted for Acosta are hanging in there reports Politico: Republicans — and some Dems — stand by Acosta amid Jeffrey Epstein charges. Senators who voted to confirm Trump’s Labor secretary are resisting demands for his ouster, despite the explosive indictment against Epstein.

Of course they are.

On Monday, no senator in either party that supported Acosta’s confirmation as Labor secretary called for the former U.S. Attorney’s ouster over the much-criticized 2008 plea deal he cut with Epstein to avoid a public trial over the sex abuse charges and a heavy jail sentence for the financier.

“If he made a mistake or a judgment call or something like that, does that affect the way he’s doing his job now? I’m going to basically judge him on what job he’s doing and how he’s doing it,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who voted to confirm Acosta. As far as calls to resign, he said: “I’m not getting into that feeding frenzy.”

A few of them sounded worried.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she did not understand why the victims of Epstein’s abuse were not notified of the agreement negotiated by Acosta in 2008 — as required by federal law — and she urged the Office of Professional Responsibility to “immediately” look into its circumstances.

So let’s see. 60 Senators voted to confirm Acosta in spite of his secret plea deal that got Epstein off the hook. And now they are doubling down on that vote. So we have 60 Senators OK with that vs. dozens or hundreds of young girls snared into Epstein’s sex trafficking network. I have a suspicion about how Lady Justice’s scales will tip.

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