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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb) on left and Jeffrey Epstein on right. Photo: Getty Images.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Judiciary Committee, has asked the Justice Department to investigate its treatment of multimillionaire serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Why it matters: Infuriated by a bombshell Miami Herald investigative series on Epstein's crimes — which highlighted the sweetheart deal Epstein's lawyers got from Miami's then-top prosecutor Alexander Acosta (now Trump's labor secretary) — Sasse sent three letters to senior Justice officials on Monday, asking them to open investigations into possible misconduct of federal officials who handled the Epstein case.

Details: Sasse sent letters to Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, the Justice Department's Inspector General Michael Horowitz (embedded below), and the Director of Professional Responsibility Corey Amundson.

What he's saying:

  • "The fact that this monster received such a pathetically soft sentence is a travesty that should outrage us all," Sasse wrote to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
  • "I am particularly disturbed by this reporting indicating that federal prosecutors went out of their way to arrange this sweetheart deal for Epstein and conceal it from the women and girls that he abused who could have objected to it, in apparent violation of federal law."
  • "We need answers about this epic miscarriage of justice," Sasse wrote. (Axios obtained the three letters Sasse sent to the Justice Department.)

Between the lines: Epstein has paid handsomely to silence his victims. On Tuesday, Epstein settled the civil lawsuit brought by an attorney for some of his alleged victims just before the jury selection was about to begin. Epstein has managed, for now, to keep these accusers from telling their stories in court. But the story isn't going away.

The backdrop: 15 Democratic members of Congress, led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), sent a letter to Horowitz on Friday, asking him to investigate how Acosta approved the deal. (Acosta was briefly a long-shot contender to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, but following the Miami Herald report, White House officials have been telling people that Acosta is no longer in the running.)

  • While he was allegedly having sex with teenage girls, Epstein cultivated friendly relationships with America's elites, including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz.
  • Alan Dershowitz told Axios he's still advising Jeffrey Epstein and that he “had a therapeutic massage with an old old Russian” at Epstein’s house but from nobody underaged.

The Department of Justice declined Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas four Trump aides

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to former President Trump for testimony and documents.

Why it matters: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon were all in touch "with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection," the committee said in a release.