President Donald Trump has distanced himself today from the tycoon accused of sex trafficking of minors Jeffrey Epstein and promised to examine the relationship with his cabinet labor member Alex Acosta, who faces increasing pressure to resign.
“Of course I knew him (Epstein), everybody knew him in Palm Beach (Florida), he was one of the regulars there,” Trump told reporters at the beginning of a meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Zani, in the White House.
“But a long time ago we had an argument, maybe 15 years ago, I was not a fan of yours, I can tell you that,” he added.
Those were Trump’s first comments on the Epstein case, arrested this weekend and charged Monday with sex trafficking of minors, for creating a network to abuse dozens of minors in his mansion in New York and in Florida over a decade ago
The friendship between Trump and Epstein dates back to the late 1980s, when both magnates spent a lot of time in Palm Beach, and at least until the middle of last decade, the newly arrested was a regular visitor to the now president’s private club, Mar-a-Lago.
In a 2002 interview with New York magazine, Trump said he had known Epstein for “fifteen years” and that it was “very fun to be with him.”
“It’s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are quite young – there’s no doubt that Jeffrey enjoys his private life,” Trump said on that occasion.
However, the White House said today that Trump has had no contact with that businessman for “ten or fifteen years,” in the words of the president’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway.
The Epstein case has led the Democratic opposition to demand the resignation of Acosta, the Labor secretary, who when working as a federal prosecutor in Miami in 2008 worked on similar accusations against the now detained.
Acosta then closed an extrajudicial agreement with Epstein, for which the magnate was sentenced to 13 months in prison and reached an economic agreement with the victims, but avoided a federal charge.
Trump defended Acosta today by assuring that the decision to reach that agreement “was not made by him alone, but by many people” in the Office of the Prosecutor, and that throughout any long career there are always cases in which people “would like to have done some things differently”.
“I feel very bad for Secretary Acosta, because he is someone who works very hard and has done a very good job, but we are going to examine (his actions in the case of Epstein) very carefully,” he added.
Acosta, the only Latino in Trump’s Cabinet, hasdefended his performance in 2008, by insinuating on Twitter that it is the “new evidence and testimonies” that have recently emerged that are allowing to take forward tougher federal charges against Epstein.
However, a federal judge recently considered that the agreement led by Acosta was contrary to the law, since it concealed the more than 30 complainants of sexual abuse.