The New York Times editorial board on Thursday warned Democratic lawmakers against going after Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaFlorida sheriff ends work release program criticized over Jeffery Epstein The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena 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 CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) and Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements House Oversight committee asks DHS for information on family separation Maryland Rep. Raskin endorses Warren ahead of Iowa caucus 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 SchultzUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Appropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall American Cancer Society says Trump doesn't get credit for drop in cancer deaths 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 SchumerMeadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions Bolton book alleges Trump tied Ukraine aid freeze to Biden investigations: NYT Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse passes bill aimed at bolstering Holocaust education Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — NFL social media accounts hacked | Dem questions border chief over controversial Facebook group | Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views Meadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions 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.