The New York Times editorial board on Thursday warned Democratic lawmakers against going after Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump taps Scalia's son as Labor secretary pick The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP MORE over his 2008 plea deal with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is currently facing sex trafficking charges involving minors.

The newspaper cautioned lawmakers that they could make Acosta a political “martyr” and said that the focus should be on a slate of other issues involving the Trump administration, including immigration policies, attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and Hatch Act allegations against at least 10 Trump senior officials.


House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCummings: 'No doubt about it' Trump is a racist Cummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' MORE (D-Md.) and Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse gears up for Mueller testimony Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment How Trump suddenly brought Democrats together on a resolution condemning him MORE (D-Md.), who heads the panel’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent a letter to Acosta Wednesday, inviting him to testify later this month about his role as U.S. attorney in the Epstein plea deal.

The Times editorial board said that going after Acosta is a “poor use of the lawmakers’ limited time and resources.”

“This is a mistake. There’s no doubt that the judicial system must examine the accusations against Mr. Epstein, and that the Justice Department will have many questions about Mr. Acosta’s apparent leniency toward him,” the editorial said. “Congress digging into this case, however, is a poor use of lawmakers’ limited time and resources.”

The editorial board also warned the testimony could cause lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to make the testimony a proxy battle between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats.

“Mr. Acosta’s appearance before House members right now is unlikely to bring much more light to the situation. At best, having lawmakers grill him will give the issue a political rather than a criminal cast. And the second a Democratic member suggests that Mr. Acosta is emblematic of the rot at the heart of the Trump presidency, the partisan battle lines will harden,” the editorial said.

The board pointed to how the accusations against Acosta have already turned political.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse NYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Epstein charges put Trump Labor secretary back in spotlight MORE (D-Fla.) accused the president of “coddling” Acosta after Trump said he “feels badly” for the Labor secretary and said he is doing a “fantastic job.” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (D-Calif.) have both called for Acosta to step down.

“As for Mr. Acosta’s past failures as a federal prosecutor, better to let the legal system and the court of public opinion carry this particular burden. Some outrages are best kept as free of partisan politics as possible,” the editorial said.