On The Money: Labor secretary under fire over Epstein plea deal | Trump defends Acosta as Dems call for ouster | Biden releases tax returns showing steep rise in income | Tech giants to testify at House antitrust hearing

On The Money: Labor secretary under fire over Epstein plea deal | Trump defends Acosta as Dems call for ouster | Biden releases tax returns showing steep rise in income | Tech giants to testify at House antitrust hearing

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL--Labor secretary under fire for Epstein plea deal: Labor Secretary Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThree more Epstein accusers sue estate Barr removes prisons chief after Epstein death Feds face mounting pressure over Epstein's death MORE is facing calls for his resignation amid growing controversy his role in a non-prosecution agreement with wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein in a sex-crimes case.

Epstein was charged this week by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with running a sex-trafficking ring that involved underage girls. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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The decision to pursue a fresh case against Epstein has been viewed as an implicit  rebuke of Acosta. As a U.S. attorney, Acosta offered Epstein a deal in 2008 that included limited jail time with work-release that has been criticized as too lenient. 

Acosta defended the deal Tuesday, saying in a series of tweets that the agreement offered to Epstein was based on the available evidence, but that the new charges against him could "more fully bring him to justice."

"With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator," Acosta said.

"Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice."

 

But Acosta's explanation wasn't enough to pacify the slew of Democratic politicians, --including the House speaker, the top three Senate Democrats and several presidential candidates--calling for him to resign.

 

Trump, GOP senators rally behind Acosta: The president and Republicans stepped up to defend Acosta amid the controversy, offering a mix of support for the embattled secretary and apathy about his role in the case.

Trump told reporters at the White House that Acosta has been a "very good" Labor secretary and that Acosta probably wished he had handled the Epstein plea deal "a different way."

The president also sought to distance himself from his onetime friend Epstein. The two men used to socialize together in Palm Beach, Fla., and Trump's relationship with Epstein has been a subject of rampant speculation among some observers.

"He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don't think I've spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn't a fan," Trump said.

Several Senate Republicans also brushed off the criticism, signaling that they won't publicly pressure the Labor chief to step down.

 

The stakes: Acosta has played a critical role in Trump's workforce and deregulation agenda, loosening federal overtime requirements and legal obligations for franchise corporations while spearheading a new apprenticeship effort. But that threatens to be overshadowed by scrutiny over his role in the Epstein plea deal.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Biden releases tax returns showing steep rise in income since leaving office: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Panel: Jill Biden's campaign message MORE on Tuesday released his tax returns from 2016 to 2018, showing his income increased significantly after leaving office. 

Biden's federal tax return for 2016, his last full year as vice president, showed adjusted gross income of nearly $400,000, while his 2017 federal tax return reported adjusted gross income of more than $11 million.

His 2018 federal tax return reported adjusted gross income of $4.6 million. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more on this developing story here.

 

Tech giants to testify at House antitrust hearing: Executives for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before Congress next week as part of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust investigation into Silicon Valley.

They will appear for a hearing July 16 that will examine the "impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship," the panel's antitrust subcommittee announced Tuesday.

The hearing comes as the tech giants have been put on the defensive by regulators around the world concerned over their market power and collection of personal data.

How it will work: The subcommittee will hear from two panels of witnesses.

  • One will feature Adam Cohen, Google's economic policy director; Nate Sutton, Amazon's associate general counsel; Matt Perault, the head of global policy development at Facebook; and Kyle Andeer, Apple's chief compliance officer.
  • The other panel will be comprised of experts and some of Big Tech's biggest critics. Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican who recently served as acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, will testify, along with Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who has advocated for the government to be more forceful in enforcing antitrust law against Silicon Valley's titans.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The highest 1 percent of earners in the United States saw their share of income grow roughly 70 percent between 1979 and 2016, even after taxes and government transfers are taken into account, according to new data released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and analyzed by The Hill.
  • Nina Olson has served as the IRS's in-house watchdog for close to two decades, earning praise from lawmakers across the political spectrum, but now she says the time has come to step down from her role of national taxpayer advocate.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Republican Senators and Trump administration officials met Tuesday morning to debate a potential deal to lower drug prices, with some attendees raising concerns about a possible agreement with Democrats.