Oversight chair calls on Acosta to testify amid Epstein scrutiny

Oversight chair calls on Acosta to testify amid Epstein scrutiny
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The head of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is asking 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 to testify amid scrutiny over his role overseeing a non-prosecution agreement for Jeffrey Epstein, who has been charged in a sex trafficking case.

Oversight Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.) and Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinTop House Oversight Democrats ask DHS to reduce immigrant detainee population 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Senators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus MORE (D-Md.), who leads the panel's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent a letter Wednesday to Acosta inviting him to testify on July 23 about his non-prosecution agreement for Epstein from his time serving as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

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Under the agreement reached in 2008, Epstein spent 13 months in county jail. The Miami Herald reported on details of the case in an investigative series published last fall.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York unsealed a fresh indictment that detailed a series of new charges against Epstein, a billionaire financier with powerful political connections.

The indictment alleges that between 2002 to 2005 he created “a network and operation enabling him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” and that he also paid these victims cash to then recruit other underage girls for "sexual encounters." Prosecutors also claim Epstein knew these girls were underaged.

"Your testimony is even more critical now that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York unsealed a new indictment earlier this week outlining a host of additional charges against Mr. Epstein, including luring dozens of teenage girls to his homes in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, and paying them to engage in sexual activity with him,” Cummings wrote to Acosta.

Acosta, who is expected to defend himself during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, said in a tweet Tuesday that he is "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."

Cummings noted that a federal court previously determined in February that Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by keeping this non-prosecution agreement secret from the victims of who had come forward to testify about Epstein’s crimes. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE and other White House officials have so far defended Acosta as top Democrats call for his resignation and amid wavering GOP support. Some top Republicans have declined to comment on whether Acosta should step down, however, stating that they need more information on the matter.

Cummings and other Democrats are also requesting that the Office of Professional Responsibility at the Department of Justice brief them on what the office's months-long investigation into Acosta’s conduct as U.S. attorney has found.

“In light of the recently unsealed criminal indictment against Jeffrey Epstein for alleged acts of child abuse and sex trafficking, we request that you provide the Committee with an update on the status of your investigation of alleged misconduct by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta during his tenure as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida," they wrote.