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Acosta listens to President Trump on May 2, 2018. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings requested Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta's testimony on Wednesday regarding his role in registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's 2008 plea deal.

The latest: Cummings called for Acosta's testimony, scheduled for July 23. Acosta defended his role in Epstein's 2008 plea deal to reporters on Wednesday, saying "he faced a tough choice between accepting a plea deal that was not as tough as he wished it would be and going to trial with witnesses who were scared to testify," per the New York Times.

The backdrop: A judge ruled in February that federal prosecutors, including Acosta, violated the law by striking a "sweetheart" plea deal with Epstein. The deal allowed Epstein to avoid federal prosecution for his participation in an international sex operation.

  • On Monday, federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein for allegedly abusing dozens of female minors at his Manhattan and Florida homes, per unsealed court documents.

What Acosta's saying:

"Epstein's actions absolutely deserve a stiffer sentence. For years there've been rumors of investigations in other jurisdictions, and he should be prosecuted in any state in which he committed a crime.
If there are other states in which he committed crimes, if there are other states that can bring state charges, they should consider those, as well. And so I absolutely welcome this New York prosecution."
— Alexander Acosta, speaking to reporters on Wednesday

Meanwhile: President Trump defended Acosta on Tuesday, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading calls for him to resign. On Wednesday, Acosta denied that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had suggested he be forced out of his position, per the Times.

Read Cummings' request for Acosta's testimony:

Go deeper: What we know about the Jeffrey Epstein indictment

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
26 mins ago - Health

Gottlieb: CDC hampered U.S. response to COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The CDC moved too slowly at several points in the coronavirus pandemic, ultimately hindering the U.S. response, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes in a new book, Uncontrolled Spread.

The big picture: The book argues that American intelligence agencies should have a much bigger role in pandemic preparedness, even if that's sometimes at the expense of public health agencies like the CDC.

911's digital makeover

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A next-generation 911 would allow the nation's 6,000 911 centers to accept texts, videos and photos.

The big picture: U.S. emergency communications have remained stubbornly analog, but Congress is about to take another run at dragging 911 into the digital age.

Biden enlists business leaders in campaign for vax mandates

President Joe Biden at a meeting with business leaders Sept. 15, 2021. Photo: Oliver Contretas/Getty Images

President Biden convened a meeting of top business leaders Wednesday to build support for a sweeping vaccine mandate that will affect most of America's workers. The message: Vaccines work, and the stalled uptake is holding back the economy.

Why it matters: As vaccine rates have flattened across the country, business leaders have the power to impact their employees’ decisions. Many corporate leaders had been looking for stronger federal guidance to lean on.