Even as Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stepped down, resigning his office in the in the face of public outrage, once again President Trump ran to a comfortable trope: It is all the media’s fault. If only journalists would focus on all the great things being done at the White House, if only reporters would quit being so negative, if only they would give up that annoying habit of pointing out the administration’s scandals – gosh, wouldn’t life be great?
“I know one thing,” Trump said, standing next to the departing secretary. “He did a great job. And until this came up there was never an ounce of problems.”
Really? Let’s review. As a U.S. Attorney in Florida, Acosta struck a sweetheart deal with business mogul Jeffrey Epstein. Although Epstein was facing possibly decades in prison for sex crimes involving minors, his lawyers and Acosta’s team made a secret deal. Epstein registered as a sex offender, spent just over a year in jail, and even then he was allowed out during the day for work. The whole nasty arrangement was hidden from the victims – dozens of underage women, children really – in violation of the law according to a Florida judge’s ruling earlier this year.
Yet, this week as new charges landed on Epstein, Acosta defended himself. His team of prosecutors was trying to “do the right thing” all those years ago. He really wanted Epstein to be in jail for 18 months. He was frustrated by the work release situation. He and Trump appeared confused by the fact that anyone is even upset about it now. In Trump’s words, what happened to Acosta is “very sad.”
Not what happened to the girls. Not what happened to the justice system. Not what happened to that still glimmering American hope that public servants will serve the public with vigor, instead of allowing the rich and powerful – like Epstein – to skate. Neither Trump nor Acosta said a word about how “sad” all that is, during their goodbye session with the press. No, they were too busy tsk’ing the meddlesome media for bringing it all up.