Schumer: Acosta must resign over Epstein case
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said that Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe 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 Sanders calls Eugene Scalia's Labor Dept. confirmation 'obscene' MORE should resign over a 2008 plea deal involving financier Jeffrey Epstein and that if he doesn't, President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE should fire him. 

"I am calling on Secretary Acosta to resign,” Schumer said during a Senate floor speech. “It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta's ability to lead the Department of Labor. If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him.” 

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Schumer's demand for Acosta to resign comes as an increasing number of Democrats, including members of his caucus, are calling on the Labor secretary to step down.

"Acosta chose to let him off easy. This is not acceptable. We cannot have as one of the leading appointed officials in America someone who has done this," Schumer added of the plea deal received by Epstein.

In addition to Acosta resigning, Schumer said on Tuesday that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which is investigating the plea deal, should make its findings public and that Trump needs to explain past statements he's made about Epstein.

Federal prosecutors unsealed new sex trafficking charges against Epstein on Monday, alleging abuse of dozens of female minors. He has denied all charges.

The charges are putting a new spotlight on the 2008 plea deal that Acosta, then a U.S. attorney in Florida, approved with Epstein that enabled him to serve 13 months in “custody with work release."

Acosta has defended the 2008 plea deal, arguing that it ensured Epstein would serve jail time, register as a sex offender and pay damages to victims.

But Schumer — calling Epstein's alleged behavior "sickening," "appalling" and "despicable" — on Tuesday argued that Acosta gave him a "sweetheart deal" despite "overwhelming evidence."

"Epstein should have been behind bars years ago," Schumer said. "No one can figure out why Mr. Epstein was able to persuade U.S. Attorney Acosta not to prosecute."