Embattled Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stepping down

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday

"You'll have to figure all of that out", the president said. He said he did not ask Mr Acosta to leave the Cabinet.

Trump said that Acosta "felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in".

"I don't think it's right or fair to have this administration's labor department have Epstein be the focus instead of the incredible economy we have today", Acosta said.

Vicky Ward reported for the Daily Beast that Acosta had told the Trump transition team interviewing him for the Labor Secretary job that he had been told to do a deal with Epstein because he was a government asset.

Epstein was accused of molesting dozens of girls in the early 2000s at his house in Florida and on the Caribbean island, but the charges were mostly dropped in a controversial plea deal reached by US attorneys in Florida working under Acosta in 2008. Epstein avoided federal charges by pleading guilty to state charges and served 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and registered as a sex offender. He faces sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

U.S. Attorney's Office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein's lawyer and Mr. Acosta.

Cummings and other House Democrats also sent a letter to the Office of Professional Responsibility at the Justice Department requesting a briefing about their investigation of the matter.

The Labor Secretary's oversight includes sex trafficking.

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Acosta had attempted to clear his name, and held a news conference - encouraged by Trump - earlier this week to defend his actions. Acosta negotiated the plea deal without notifying Epstein's alleged victims. The president said Acosta had been a "great" labor secretary.

Mr Acosta had been under pressure from Democrats to quit.

"He made a deal that people are happy with, and then 12 years later, they're not happy with it".

"The rest of it, we'll have to look at it very carefully", Trump said in response to a question from a reporter in the Oval Office alongside Qatar's ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Epstein, a billionaire hedge fund manager, pleaded not guilty to new federal charges in NY this week.

Acosta was working as a public prosecutor at the time. An address book of Epstein's that has become part of civil court records in Florida has phone or email listings for King, his niece and former state Rep. Rhonda King and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. "It would be selfish to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 year old, rather than the unbelievable economy we have right now". "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with".

'You can always second guess people and you can say he should have been tougher.

Trump has since tried to distance himself from Epstein.

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