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DOJ investigation into Epstein deal ends without recommended action

DOJ investigation into Epstein deal ends without recommended action
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) found that federal prosecutors overseeing the controversial nonprosecution deal with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 did not engage in "professional misconduct" but used "poor judgment" in trying to reach such an agreement and failing to assure victims were notified of a plea hearing, according to a DOJ statement released Thursday.

"While OPR did not find that Department attorneys engaged in professional misconduct, OPR concluded that the victims were not treated with the forthrightness and sensitivity expected by the Department," the Justice Department's statement regarding findings by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) said.

The statement added that former U.S. Attorney Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaOn The Money: Trump slams relief bill, calls on Congress to increase stimulus money | Biden faces new critical deadlines after relief package | Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Federal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority MORE, who later served as a Labor Secretary in the Trump administration, exercised poor judgment by "deciding to resolve the federal investigation through the non-prosecution agreement and when he failed to make certain that the state of Florida intended to and would notify victims identified through the federal investigation about the state plea hearing."

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Under the nonprosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to charges of prostitution that included ones involving a minor. He avoided prosecution and potential life in prison in exchange for payments to the victims and registering as a sex offender, according to The Associated Press. He also served 13 months in a work-release program.  

The OPR report found no attorneys committed misconduct in the interactions with Epstein's victims.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseJust five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Juan Williams: Let America be America MORE (R-Neb.) said has repeatedly urged the Justice Department to investigate the alleged sweetheart deal Epstein's lawyers received from Acosta, Miami's former top prosecutor, whom Sasse claims gave Epstein soft treatment amid his many allegations of sexual abuse against minors.

"Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn't 'poor judgment' — it is a disgusting failure. Americans ought to be enraged," Sasse said in a statement about the DOJ's conclusion.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time MORE (D-Vi.) also released a statement regarding OPR's findings, asking, "How is letting a child sex trafficker walk free anything but gross professional misconduct?"

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"How is keeping the plea deal secret from the survivors not a clear violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act? The light-handedness of OPR’s report is just the latest in a long series of failures by the Justice Department to deliver justice for these young women and girls," Kaine added.

Both Kaine and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback Demolition at the Labor Department, too Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (D-Wash.) urged OPR to make its findings public last year.

The Justice Department said it could not release the full report publicly, citing the Privacy Act, but added the report had been disclosed upon request to a congressional committee with jurisdiction on the matter.

In his statement, Sasse called on the DOJ to release the full OPR report, saying, "we have an obligation to make sure this never happens again."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.