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Protesters hold images of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the Federal courthouse in New York City last July. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

An appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2007 deal between Jeffrey Epstein and prosecutors allowing him to avoid federal sex trafficking charges — denying an effort by one of his accusers to challenge the action in a lawsuit.

The big picture: A judge ruled last year that federal prosecutors in Florida violated the law by striking the deal. "It's not a result we like, but it's the result we think the law requires," a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion following the 2-1 ruling. A lawyer for Courtney Wild, who's spoken of being molested by Epstein at age 14, said in a statement they plan to file a petition for a rehearing.

Read the federal appeals court's decision via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: The life and death of Jeffrey Epstein

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.