Rachel Maddow details the disturbing new ruling against Trump's labor secretary in the case of an alleged billionaire child molester

Rachel Maddow details the disturbing new ruling against Trump's labor secretary in the case of an alleged billionaire child molester
Image credit: U.S. Department of Labor

On Thursday, a federal judge in Florida ruled that President Donald Trump's Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, broke the law when, as a U.S. attorney, he brokered a secret non-prosecution deal with Jeffrey Epstein, a highly-connected wealth manager accused of molesting and trafficking dozens of underage girls over a period of decades.

The ruling is explosive, for a number of reasons — and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow broke down its meaning and implications in a lengthy Twitter thread:

First, Maddow notes, "this is a breakthrough because for the first time, a court is confirming Epstein's serial abuse of multiple minor girls (a federal crime) in Florida, elsewhere in the US, and abroad." Getting any confirmation of this has proven devilishly elusive, because Acosta's non-prosecution agreement, in addition to shutting down the FBI investigation, allowed Epstein to plead out on a charge of "prostitution." A lawsuit last year that might have allowed some of Epstein's victims to testify publicly for the first time was averted when Epstein brokered a settlement, thus continuing to keep the details of his alleged wrongdoing under wraps.

Second, the ruling confirms that Acosta's deal with Epstein was a violation of federal laws that require crime victims to be informed of the details of an agreement that lessens the sentence of the alleged perpetrator:

This was not an accident, says Maddow. In fact, today's ruling asserts specifically that Acosta himself worked hand in hand with Epstein's attorney to keep the agreement concealed from the victims:

"So, a federal judge just ruled that the current Labor Secretary gave a secret non-prosecution agreement to a prolific, serial child sex offender — then broke the law by agreeing with the guy's defense team that they'd all keep it secret from the victims," Maddow concludes. "Did I mention that Alex Acosta is now a Trump cabinet official? Right now? Still?"

Acosta may have helped Epstein escape accountability for his alleged crimes. But now it is his turn to face legal scrutiny and public accountability.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.