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Alex Acosta. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty

Former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta demonstrated "poor judgement" when he signed off on a plea deal with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but did not commit “professional misconduct,” the Justice Department concluded in a report released Thursday.

Why it matters: The federal criminal investigation, which took place from 2006 to 2008, allowed Epstein to avoid a possible life sentence. He was released after serving 13 months in prison and largely continued business operations and travels until 2019 when he was charged in a new sex trafficking case.

The big picture: With his decision, Acosta failed to consider that the plea deal "required greater oversight," the DOJ said. He resolved the federal investigation before carrying out important investigative steps.

  • The report did note, however, that the decision was within the scope of Acosta’s broad discretion and did not result from “improper factors.”
  • There is no evidence that a “lack of consultation was for the purpose of silencing victims.”
  • The plea deal waived "federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida of [Epstein], four named co-conspirators, and 'any potential co-conspirators.'"
  • Acosta resigned as President Trump's labor secretary in 2019 after facing scrutiny over his handling of the Epstein case during his tenure as a federal prosecutor in Florida.

What they’re saying: Paul Cassell, an attorney for multiple Epstein victims, called the report a “cover up,” the Washington Post reports.

  • “[Acosta] and his office failed to give notice to victims, misled victims, misinterpreted the law and did not treat the abuse survivors with decency and respect,” Adam Horowitz, another attorney representing Epstein victims, told the Post. “The mountain of mistakes was not just poor judgment. It was reckless.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) demanded the department release its full report, saying in a statement: “Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment’ — it is a disgusting failure.

  • “The DOJ’s crooked deal with Epstein effectively shut down investigations into his child sex trafficking ring and protected his co-conspirators in other states. Justice has not been served," he added.

What to watch: Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein confidante, is awaiting trial on charges of recruiting and grooming underage girls. Trump came under fire earlier this year for "wish[ing] her well."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Wall Street titan Leon Black stepping down as Apollo's CEO

Credit: Apollo

Leon Black is stepping down as CEO of investment giant Apollo Global Management, following the conclusion of an independent investigation into his interactions with Jeffrey Epstein.

Why it matters: Black has long been one of Wall Street's top power brokers, and he's one of the people responsible for helping to create the modern private equity industry.

Updated 15 mins ago - Sports

MLB enters first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

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