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

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Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks

Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Several Republican senators defended Anthony Fauci after a string of attacks in recent days from President Trump, who has called the government's top infectious-disease expert "a disaster" and falsely claimed that he's a Democrat.

Why it matters: As polls indicate warning signs for both Trump and down-ballot Republicans, more GOP leaders are urging the president to stop downplaying the pandemic and to listen to advice from public health experts. Fauci is one of the most trusted voice in the country on coronavirus issues.

Senate to vote on Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation on Oct. 26

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol on Oct. 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Senate will vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next Monday, Oct. 26, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday.

The big picture: The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote this Thursday to advance Barrett's nomination to the full Senate floor. Democrats have acknowledged that there's nothing procedurally they can do to stop Barrett's confirmation, which will take place just one week out from Election Day.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.