Epstein and Acosta… Acosta Resigns, Epstein’s Victims Still Entitled to Justice

Trump speaks after Labor Secretary Acosta resigns

Jeffrey Epstein, Alex Acosta, Cutting the Budget for Trafficking Investigations and How Many Children at Risk?

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VIDEO: https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2019-0711.mp4?start=3214.0

Alex Acosta Enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Crimes. Now He’s Gutting Funding for Trafficking Victims 

During a press conference Wednesday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta dismissed calls for his resignation and defended the 2008 plea deal given to the billionaire serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein while he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the office tasked with fighting child sex trafficking. Critics of the proposal argue it would effectively dismantle many programs aimed at preventing child sex trafficking and put large numbers of children at risk. We speak with Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is rejecting calls to resign and is defending his role in a 2008 plea deal given to the wealthy serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. At the time, Acosta was a U.S. prosecutor in Florida. The Miami Herald has described the plea deal as, quote, “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.”

AMY GOODMAN: Acosta has also come under fire for his proposal to cut funding for victims of sex trafficking. His 2020 budget proposal for the Department of Labor includes an almost 80% decrease in funds for International Labor Affairs Bureau. Acosta was questioned when he held an almost hour news conference to justify the extremely lenient deal he made with Epstein back in 2008 when he was the U.S. attorney in Florida. But this is what he said when questioned about the budget around sex trafficking.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: As labor secretary, you’ve tried repeatedly to cut a program that deals with human trafficking in the Labor Department by up to 80%, going before Congress advocating for that. Why should people trust you to focus on human trafficking and protect victims, if you’ve done that? And I’d like a follow-up question.

LABOR SECRETARY ALEXANDER ACOSTA: So, you’re referring to grants that go to foreign countries, for foreign country labor-related work. As part of the budget every year, those grants have been removed, as have other grants for foreign countries. And let me just add, as part of the budget every year, those grants are put right back in by Congress. This is what happens in Washington. And I fully suspect that those grants will remain in this year.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Alex Acosta’s record, we’re joined now by Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

We’re not as much talking right now about the case of Jeffrey Epstein, which we talked about over the last few days, but this issue of his cutting of the budget. Can you explain what this means?

TAINA BIEN-AIMÉ: So, the Department of Labor has a bureau called ILAB, which is the International Labor Affairs Bureau. And their primary responsibility is to combat forced labor, child trafficking, both labor and sex trafficking, and human trafficking in general. So, what Secretary Acosta is saying, that it goes primarily—that this money goes primarily to international programs, is correct, but it also goes to domestic programs.

So, if he slashes—so, he has a budget of $68 million. What he is proposing is for the bureau, ILAB, to be reduced by 80%, to $18 million. Congress will fight him on that; the Appropriations Committee will fight him on that. But what it means is that we are faced with an administration that wants to reduce its efforts to this very complex human rights violation called human trafficking. So, it’s not just jeopardizing the work that we are doing to combat child sex trafficking, but also child labor trafficking. So, many of—the State Department also works on human trafficking and also provides services and programs to combat it, but they rely on DOL, on the Department of Labor, and specifically for child labor trafficking.

So, for instance, cocoa production, right? So, there are three major U.S. companies—Hershey, Mars and Nestlé—that cannot even—they committed to ensuring to the consumers that no child labor trafficking is involved in the production of cocoa. What will happen to those commitments? Right? We don’t even know whether they are fulfilling their commitments to ensure that whenever you buy a bag of M&M’s or Skittles, that that doesn’t involve child trafficking.

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Epstein – Court Ordered Check-In Skipped and NYPD Ambivalent

NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein never once checked in with city cops in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so every 90 days — and the NYPD says it’s fine with that.

After being labeled a worst-of-the-worst, Level 3 sex offender in 2011, Epstein should have reported in person to verify his address 34 times before he was arrested Saturday on federal child sex-trafficking charges.

Violating requirements of the state’s 1996 Sex Offender Registration Act — including checking in with law enforcement — is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for a first offense.

Subsequent violations carry a sentence of up to seven years each.

But the NYPD hasn’t required the billionaire financier — who owns a $77 million Upper East Side townhouse — to check in since he registered as a sex offender in New York over the controversial 2008 plea bargain he struck in Florida amid allegations he sexually abused scores of underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

Several current and former high-ranking NYPD officials were shocked to learn from The Post that the department had given Epstein a pass on his periodic check-ins, with one saying, “It makes no sense.”

“The NYPD can’t modify a court order,” a source said. “If the judge says he has to report here, he has to report here.”

Another source said Epstein was “supposed to go to SOMU,” an acronym for the NYPD’s Sex Offender Monitoring Unit, located in the Manhattan criminal courthouse at 100 Centre St.

“If he didn’t, then he’s in violation and they could have arrested him,” the source said.

The NYPD maintains that Epstein, 66, wasn’t required to check in with New York cops because he claims his primary residence is a private island, Little St. James Island, in the US Virgin Islands.

But state Supreme Court Justice Ruth Pickholz considered and rejected that very argument by defense lawyer Sandra Musumeci during the Jan. 18, 2011, hearing.

Musumeci insisted that Epstein wasn’t a “resident of New York” and that his seven-story townhouse at 9 E. 71st St. was a “vacation home” at which he had no plans to ever stay “longer than a period 10 days.”

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Epstein and Smerconish – When a Man’s Front Door is More Important than the Many Child Victims of a Sex Trade??

Michael Smerconish

Michael Smerconish calls out ‘the feds’ for damaging Epstein’s door

 

Radio host Michael Smerconish went on a bizarre tangent on his SiriusXM show Tuesday as he sparred with callers over whether the door of Jeffrey Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion should’ve been damaged in the raid by feds over the weekend.

Damaged caused to the front door of the home of Jeffrey Epstein.
Damaged caused to the front door of the home of Jeffrey Epstein.Christopher Sadowski

“The SDNY indictment and excellent reporting by @jkbjournalist are convincing that Jeffrey Epstein is bad guy who has done terrible things and needs to be severely punished,” tweeted Smerconish, who hosts “The Michael Smerconish Program” on Sirius’ POTUS Channel. “F him. But could the feds not have used a locksmith instead of a crowbar on those doors?”

Smerconish’s case for the preservation of the convicted pedophile’s home furnishings set off a firestorm Tuesday as callers dialed in to question whether his outrage was misdirected.

Enlarge ImageJeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey EpsteinREUTERS

“You are wasting too much time on the outrage of doors when there’s way more important things,” one caller said.

But the host doubled down on his comments saying, “I saw things that I thought was really odd or misplaced and I decided to comment.”

Smerconish insisted that he wasn’t defending Epstein but took issue with how the feds gained entry into his $77 million home at Nine East 71st St.

“I believed Jeffrey Epstein has slept in this house for the final time,” Smerconish said. “It’s not about him. It’s the case and how the government approached it.”

 

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Epstein and AG Barr – Another Connection in the Govt. to the Epstein Saga

AG Barr recuses himself from Jeffrey Epstein case, citing past legal work

Attorney General Bill Barr said Monday he has recused himself from the high-profile case against financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, citing his past legal work.

Barr, during a visit to South Carolina on Monday, was asked whether he planned to get involved in the Epstein case, which involves accusations the 66-year-old hedge fund manager preyed on “dozens” of underage victims—some as young as 14. He has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking.

“I’m recused from that matter because one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm I subsequently joined for a period of time,” Barr told reporters.

Barr joined the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in 2009, which had represented Epstein during a separate case against him in 2008.

PELOSI CALLS FOR ACOSTA TO STEP DOWN OVER EPSTEIN PLEA DEAL, HITS TRUMP

But Barr is not the only Trump administration official faced with questions over the Epstein case—Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has faced scrutiny over his handling of that 2008 case. Acosta, who was U.S. attorney for Florida at the time, helped Epstein to secure a plea deal that resulted in an 18-month sentence—he served just 13 months. The deal was criticized as lenient because Epstein could have faced a life sentence. Acosta negotiated a deal that resulted in two state solicitation charges, but no federal charges.

Acosta has defended the plea deal as appropriate under the circumstances, though the White House said in February that it was “looking into” his handling of the deal.

Epstein was charged this week with sex trafficking and conspiracy during the early 2000s. Epstein pleaded not guilty on Monday in New York City federal court.

“The victims described herein were as young as 14 years old at the time they were abused…and were, for various reasons, often particularly vulnerable to exploitation,” prosecutors wrote in court documents. “Epstein intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18.”

Epstein allegedly created and maintained a “vast network” and operation from 2002 “up to and including” at least 2005 that enabled him to “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” in addition to paying victims to recruit other underage girls.

BILL CLINTON ‘KNOWS NOTHING’ ABOUT EPSTEIN’S ‘TERRIBLE CRIMES’

Prosecutors also allege Epstein “worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates” who helped facilitate his conduct by contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with the 66-year-old at his mansion in New York City and Palm, Beach, Fla.

Victims would be paid hundreds of dollars in cash by either Epstein or one of his associates or employees, according to prosecutors. The 66-year-old also allegedly “incentivized his victims” to become recruiters by paying the victim-recruiters hundreds of dollars for each girl brought to him.

Epstein was once friends with former President Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and President Trump. He was arrested Saturday after his private jet touched down from France.

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