Acosta speaks out on Epstein scandal

Former U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida Alexander Acosta defended prosecutors in his former office during the 2008 prosecution of Jeff Epstein, saying prosecutors "really, really do care."
28:04 | 07/10/19

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Transcript for Acosta speaks out on Epstein scandal
They're pretty happy Wednesday welcome to the Greek term I'm Devin Dwyer Washington Virginia with us today a lot of news to get to today we won't meet the democratic challenger looking to take on. Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell and that Kentucky race headed for twenty Tony it is heating up out there in the middle of the country. A B McGrath joins us coming up but first we take a look at some breaking news. Over the Labor Department president trumps Leber secretary. Alex Acosta is defending his role in that. Plea deal a decade ago involving a disgraced billionaire finance here. Jeffrey Epstein just a short time ago. Coston stepped away from the podium he is staying on the job he defended his role in that plea deal which resulted in something of of lenient sentence for Epstein a decade ago he served thirteen months in the county jail he was able to go home at night. New evidence of course coming out in the past few months and in the past week. Reveal. Some sordid accusations against him of sex trafficking of minors over many years. Epstein now federally indicted for those charges are want to bring in our Jordan Phelps she's over at the White House because the big question hanging over. All this Jordan was whether. He gave this involvement with this Epstein case which is gripped the country would result in another cabinet secretary being fired by president trump but. At least as of right now Jordan it does look like a Costa is staying on the job. Yeah and haven't we seen the president had a win seemed to discard his cabinet officers but in this case the president is very much pleased with Alex it cost and how. He's performed as labor secretary we saw the president. Publicly to maintain yesterday and we know that the president would eager acts is he costing go out there today and publicly to hang himself. Outlook course the watching Twitter to see what the president thinks of this performance and whether he was pleased with that but DeVon the president is someone he'll. Please back it up against the wall when one of his own is under the microscope he likes to fight back and that's the approach we're really seeing from this White House right now so. For now crustaceans state. And he described his relationship with the president today as outstanding. Our chief N national correspondent Tony Alice was in the room Tom joins us now Tom it tells what it was like in there and you asked Alex Acosta so if he had a message for victims he didn't give your clear answer. Look I think that's the headline out of this news conference Alex Acosta was asked several times. If he would apologize for the victims he did not apologize he was given the opportunity to. And he chose not to he asked other victims to come forward. He also explained his decision essentially said it had to do was kind of financial silence but they were worried his office was worried that instance legal team. If you would have gotten wind that they had. Sort of talking to victims or the deal was done at that essentially would have ended Daniel and it would have sorted from from ground zero. That being said the victims that we've talked her into said. They were left in the dark and it really hurt because they had gone to the US attorney's office there. For help us for you know they Warner justice and begin or about this deal until well after he had served his thirteen month sentence. Alex costing your secretary Costa was defending his actions of his office he also stood by his prosecutors essentially acknowledged no mistakes. Now that being said a Jewish has already ruled. That his office and violated the rights of those victims by not informing them of what was going on with Jeffrey Epstein. What we saw today's is secretary or Costa you're standing by his team standing by his decisions. He was asked to be as any regrets and he says that is a tough question to answer because you always have regrets in life. And times have changed and laws have changed and there's more transparency. But he really never spoke directly to the victims who had come forward. Who had worked with his office kind of say sorry or just to cinema messaging general. Yet he did you get Tom say he thought and Jeffrey Epstein deserve to stiffer sentence that he got but he defended. Odd that deal as you cease it is basically the best deal he could get at the time he said there was sufficient evidence. To go to trial but not sufficient evidence to be competent in the outcome he think that's reasonable you know the details of the case I think that's a reasonable explanation of what was the what was the case a year ten years ago. Listen that phrase he used was vocal there was some cold between going to trial. And actually getting a conviction that's what those are the words that he used from the evidence that we have seen we're talking about it dozens of victims teenage girl's. Who said they were high school they were recruited and it recruited other girls to go there. And then had Jeffrey Epstein sexually assault them now he claimed that at times some of these witnesses which is understandable because these are young girl's. Who allegedly had been sexually assaulting did not want to testified they will agree to talks they were nervous this is all understandable. But as one victim to two record out to meet even if you have to victims will go on the record. You go. After that he can prosecute that case and yet he chose not to. The other big issue here wasn't a lot of people us this question. Why don't you let him agreed to pleading guilty to prostitution. Assumption labels these high school girls as prostitutes. He could've. Don't another charged with lewd and lascivious molestation which if you look at the statute fla. That's exactly what happened this case that's what the allegations work if you look at the court documents but for some reason his office allow Jeffrey Epstein to plead guilty. To prostitution. And he gets a Tommy said he would sit submit to an interview by the justice department's office of professional responsibility sort of part of this damage control mode from a cost. Richard Wright he closed in the his action close the FBI investigation shot it down with all those young. Women out there are still struggling to come forward Tommy honest thanks for your reporting a tough question in in their one last one to Jordan Phelps over at the White House. Opt AG Jordan their horses so much as scrutiny of a cost the president. Had his eyes on this case. Where do you think this goes from here now in terms of the administration's response what will they be watching. Are to see if if he can stand the job. DeVon and big key is what comes out on the hell we've seen a lot of Democrats a lot of democratic presidential candidates. Come forward and say it costs to show every sign that we really haven't seen. The ranks of the president's own party split from across staff that the Republicans stay united behind the president here as seeming. The president decides to stick by his man here. Then it's hard to see. A cost that departing from this administration anytime seemed Avant so. It really depends on whether those calls continue and get louder and not chorus of public opinion just gets to fears for the administration to hold off. Yet what a conservative Republican straw in the course as well right now mostly Democrats as he said Jordan Phelps or White House reporter thanks so much Jordan. Attorney not of the crisis at the border today new questions about the treatment of children in this detention centers. Hot in Texas and New Mexico the house oversight committee. A short time ago convening a hearing on the conditions inside those senators you've seen the pictures they have captivated the nation. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general calling them over crowded. Unacceptable new questions today. But as it the mother run rain nineteen month old daughter who died. In custody came forward a short time ago to tell her story and demand that congress take action here she is. Tell you don't see India. If agreement but that got to ask them. BCA put us senate ambience CA well also let me fat and static on that lit up close look you left the hospital without and he likes. Left in her and it breaks my heart. It's very hard to be here and tell this story but I'm kidding here in front of all of you telling it. To cause a change. And to make a difference. After telling what happens in the detention centers and the cruelty they've inflicted upon. These children. As a mother it's very difficult. To express when it happens. Man thank you very much for listening to a I have to say. That was a translator speaking for yes mean war as she and her daughter spent three weeks in an ice detention facility. I received some prescription drugs but not sufficient medical care they're not suing the federal government want to bring in. ArQule reporter Catherine fall there's who's there at the hearing she I was also at that event. Yes mean war as the mother is now testifying before the panel cap from what are. House Democrats hoping to accomplish with this hearing and is there in new legislation on the table right now. And look I think they're hoping aid to accomplish exactly what you. I have heard that mothers say right there that. She's speaking out it's hard for her new bit a chance to bring awareness to this problem. That she wants change DeVon as he says she's bringing this lawsuit she's suing as the USS in nineteen month old daughter died from by roll along infection and wannabes at facilities so this isn't giving up a lot of hearings. And ever going to see on this topic he's obviously testifying behind me here today. A but this week on Friday to we'll hear from the inspector general and Cummings also announced that the acting DHS secretary Kevin Mack a lean and will show up here next week on July 18. Are kept bowlers thanks for that want to bring in our Claudia Flores says she's university professor. At the university of Chicago law professor also the director of the international human rights clinic there someone who has worked in advised. I the United Nations on treatment of migrants cloudy Rick to see. To see you again the president has said in recent days that the conditions inside these facilities are better. Then those that many of these families and children are leaving behind. Against the big question here's what should the standard be what's the international standard. For what these children should experience in there and you know we hear complaints about the food and maybe the temperature or some of those things are quite subjective. Are helpless could sort of as he get a baseline for what we should be gay judge you know of this by. So are well editions that in my home country is definitely not standard. And there are two questions around issue and children and the what's the standard and the second is holding these horrible bush. So this is that I. That is an increased twenty years lowers subtle and which is actually quite detailed about transit conditions that we neat provide immigrant children tension that includes medical care. That includes Lou that includes water that includes a sales that are not freezing cold. I was so that is clear and there's national standards on both under convention on civil and political rights which requires that the US. A treat all immigrant detainees with dignity. And also the convention on the rights of the child which the US has signed on to not a new question we just seem to be rehashing them in a very disturbing. Yet that's for sure this is not something that had it had been. Are raised for some time even as these influx is migrants continued through the Obama administration Claudia. It let's talk about the deaths migrant child deaths for a second because they've disturbed so many people you saw the gripping testimony. Of that mother yes mean war as there you know the thought of so many of these kids being left helpless inside. Senators bothers a lot of Americans. Should the US government be held legally accountable for all of those cases is a lawyer where do you draw the line there on what the US should be responsible for. Well there are clean that allowed the US government to be held accountable and agents of the US government and act. Acting within missile or employment. There's also the possibility damages claims against individual each ends up. He is a huge issue here and and it any new under the trump administration. Has gotten much worse and trying to administration the kinds of questions we need to be asking is. Holt is responsible for accountability who's responsible for discipline was responsible for ensuring that agents in detention facilities actually meet these standards. Other research that has been done in the past including this clinic has found. That accountability mechanisms are extremely weak within customs and border tension and ice are generally. I went out real accountability mechanisms we can't expect the US government to actually meet standards. It's not an issue of funding it's an issue internal institutional over all cash and it's great and is looking at an outright. This has been an issue ends the Obama administration. Children were reporting all sorts of abuses being punched and kicked by Border Patrol agents being held increasing sales being denied medical care or sanitary napkins. This already happening since 2000 I at least. Yeah and that's one reason why we've seen so many of these members of congress make he's very high profile trips to these facilities to try to. Juice up that accountability if you will on hold more hearings on the subject the administration has taken some steps though. To try to at least improve the care of these kids are Quinn no one is down in Texas today. In Curry's those springs. He just visited a brand new facility. Four opened by the Department of Health and Human Services to to take some of the pressure op that overcrowding the children Quinn I think you're joining us. By phone and we are also have some new pictures coming in of the facility from the Associated Press those cameras got inside. What did you see in there tell us about it. I haven't yet little. Been great our on the ground for directory the operating facility we were given a pretty thorough act that didn't the late there was an up just. A few weeks ago that handled this massive influx of migrants did that. I've been seeing at the border. Everything we've seen two here was clean engine order the that was. Paired just the and meet with represented at the media. And in Peru today. There were colors that based but it did door. I'm outdoor play areas I'm looking at a couple soccer field right now Howard hit there are allowed to come out and play. We've got street economy is a multi purpose. Giant tent cities where they did. Eat. Church services on Sunday morning. It is the small town pepper for unaccompanied sit here. And that's where they're getting cared for after they go through Border Patrol custody. Yeah. We should make that everybody this is the Health and Human Services Department they are simply responsible for caring for the kids. I doing the best they can't after they've been processed and we were seen there Quinn the pictures on the screen as you are talking and looks. Like a really nice facility and it's not lost than anybody that there's a reason why the government is letting the cameras in now actor. Weeks of denying the cameras at what we're quite nice. A what what were people saying where you were on scene narron India is this sort of typical of the other facilities you've looked that. Well this facility is too. Which are under capacity actually it's built to accommodate men as many as thirteen hundred did. Right now there's just over 200 staying here and that they're prepared to take many more it. If there's an incident at another location or if there is another surge of kids crossing the border. But what we're seeing here is a couple leaked out well resource facility there art security measures. All over there's counseling facilities. We watched through. Series of medical talents. Where it would Ontario again this system this particular facility is operating or under capacity. It was stood up to address the surge. We heard earlier today and getting more details this week that the number of the total number of migrant including children as thick line. In in recent weeks. And that of course just come bop they happen in what that we saw in May. And it and made earlier in June and did well. Yeah let's put those numbers up for everybody just are modern at a news just in from the Customs and Border Protection. That there were or just or 100000 apprehensions in the southern border in June that's down 28% significant decline. Some of that due to perhaps the warmer temperatures down at the southern border but a good chunk of that also attributed to the efforts of Mexico. Cracking down a migrants flowing through their country to the US quite knowing terrific reporting thank you so much. For that live report from the new children facility. In Texas. I'm moving now on out to be special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom the president of course. I just back from his state visit over meeting the queen over there two Iraqi standoff with the UK ambassador here in Washington mall today. Kim Derek resigned after years of being a close friend of the United States he was forced out after this leaked messages of him. Disparaging president trump let's bring Jordan Phelps back into this. Over at the White House Jordan we know that that Teresa may it was somewhat regretful of the departure of Derek. What's been the reaction to officials at the White House is it just a few days ago they were working with Derek. Yet seven interestingly we haven't heard from president from Bonn next. I've been told light White House officials if we hear. A reaction to a Derek leaving it would come from the president. Twitter handle so far it's silent on this topic interestingly by seven. It's hard to be the top diplomat to a country when not president is calling you wacky and a very stupid guy. As president prompted in a fat of tweets yesterday. I've the president had said after these leaked cables they heatedly wasn't going to work with. Derek anymore. In so it really became sort of an untenable situation. For him to remain in his post here you know he really I haven't wants the backing up his own government I think he may be diplomatic decision here in seven. Yep can Dierker fixture in Washington no more a new government back coming soon in the UK also likely new ambassador for an tops thanks so much. Again for that reporting well after. President trumpet. Democrats in the twenties when he race for the White House and congress are turning their attention to the top Republican in the senate senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is their top target. And they look to take out Mitch McConnell as somebody after bad who is the chief obstacle to their agenda and now he has a democratic challenger we're joined now. By their challenger in your grass she's a retired. Marine lieutenant colonel also a combat pilot she is hot out of the gate to take on Mitch McConnell and Swanee Swanee she has raised. Two would have million dollars and 44 hours that's a new record any great to see you think so much. For joining us it's so what do you make of that donation flied what does that say about your campaign. Well I think really it's it's not about me it's about Kentucky in it is about our country and it's about senator tunnels on the failure. In net Peterson. Kentucky. And leadership in the country I mean I think people are her route lean. Process brings the dysfunction in Washington in the snow different around the country and in a news here in Kentucky. What do you think will be his own weaknesses. As a you know he's he hits definitely. Fended off challengers for years. As you look to take a mom what what's his biggest weakness right now. She's in week in many areas. You know being. Kentucky voted overwhelmingly for president trop. An ace in many eggs against and are still barracks it present time been in a lot of it is because if you think about why. Many Kentucky inserted for the president they voted for him to drains along. CU do big things an infrastructure to do reasonable and let me bring down and a prescription drug prices and answer thing. And a lot of those things have been blocked by name. Senator cop. And so I think that that that's that's really the message I mean Kentucky and don't really like the political parties can't they don't really think that the establishment that DC establishment has. Has worked for its. And and senator McConnell so that the base example. And add your opponents are already the PT EU is a scary. Candidate from the left in fact some of them have seized done. Some comets emitted a fund raiser recently wanted to ask you about them you reportedly said that you were further left more progressive. That anyone else in the state of Kentucky d.'s do you stand by that is that an accurate characterization of your. Here platform. Well it's really just being a Republican like the latest. And that they won't release the entirety of the Clinton you know. And that this is that this is standard in politics today. And I tell yeah I remember when I remember about bats that says fund raiser was the that was right after the Las Vegas shootings and I was up in Boston folks got their work wanting icu but on what I thought was very restrictive. A lot as regards the guns and I was trying to explain to them and I'm in Kentucky and I'm so many new. I shot every weapon you can you can dig up and somebody nine millimeter struck my chest in combat. And many contract ins were were pro Second Amendment and I can't you run and gun owner. And I was trying to say look I'm a reasonable things like better background checks. And it but you're not gonna get much more than that at a Kentucky. So you're about Uga and music speaks in Kentucky back to you the folks up there Ross. You're also married to a lifelong Republican here also somebody who has run before in the state you ran. Competitive race in in 2018 and what did you learn from from your loss Tuesday gets ready year and a half ago. Well you know I think we first though we defeated the Democrat party establishment. And we exceeded expectations. And you know this is a different race and then and so I look forward to presenting my case of the people of Kentucky became very close in the last cycle. And you know world arm garden against a different person responds to her race and look forward to this hard. Amy were grassroots Puerto following your campaign the democratic candidate. For senate in the state of Kentucky challenge you Mitch McConnell the Republican leader Amy thank you so much. For joining us suffer little more now on this race Barbara Phil Bailey he's up political reporter for the Louisville. Courier journal. Philip thanks so much for coming on what what do you think the defining issue. In this race will be. Presidential I mean cause so won Kentucky by thirty points for Hillary Clinton there with you you heard from immigrant spokesman colonel Maureen our pilot is essentially. She has to find a way to separate. President Chung from soon. Polling numbers show that presidential approval rating is plus sixteen year income talking. With cinema com holes. The negative 16%. So over on the approved rate is a 32 point gap where immigrant at this trying to do. Those folk to clear and more rural parts of the state. This say to them and leader urged to recruit know you always. Voted for presidential but you can't we don't like senator McConnell all that much I'm willing to give me chains it's it's a high task. Didn't go to your tasks certainly hard but it that's what she certainly weren't meant. So you're saying she's actually gonna have to win a whole bunch of people in Kentucky who would vote for trump. And vote for a Democrat for senate which is that is that is a tie but tall order if you look at at the numbers are you surprised by the financial support she's received. Right out of the gate here. Own milk meaning that the immigrant proved. And her restore order house last year she outreach incumbent congressman Andy Barbara three million dollars. Run against Mitch McConnell who relishes being the full reaper of liberal American. What are you from all across the continue with in the state are willing to give our money. Money isn't going to be an issue she's going to be able to compete with current beliefs. For eighteen months in this race. The hard math though is still at ground level how the thing regret it people Tony Tony a year where the president will be on the ballot. There's not any Democrats. Are opposed when he saw who renounce the direct the president welcomes it close to beating Donald Trump or believe Joseph Biden. It's about maybe 8% in Kentucky a close of president truck so immigrant past due. It's about this tightrope all of saying look. You people of the presidential to drain the swamp well the biggest alligator in that swamp is Mitch McConnell the benefit that McConnell though is that he can say to point two. He's made this argument both Kentucky and across entry into disorder present Kentucky Arabs of middle America look at the top four leaders. In congress they all that the speaker of the house or California. Minority leader and a singer just New York. The minority leader in the house from its California might be Republican chip McCarthy Stewart is California it's totally point is are there middle America. And that led to the Supreme Court look we're done with the judiciary so I think he has a very compelling argument themselves. McGrath over these next eighteen months has. Richardson and revealing it's going to be an epic clash Philip with a lot of money and that race and a lot of attention as you said the top issue in Kentucky will be president trump. Himself as they duke it out we have a long way to go but interest seemed to meet any McGrath told Bailey nice to meet you and have you join us today thanks so much. And turning now to the head of the nation's Central Bank the Federal Reserve making a little better news this afternoon in his testimony in Capitol Hill hinting. He could be about to cut interest rates that could send markets claiming they know or were already up today it's also signed a perhaps the economy isn't as strong. As it once was thought to be Jay Powell you see in there on the hill. Also made a little bit in news about his relationship with president trump. Here's how we answered that question. This chairman if you got a call from the president and today or tomorrow. And he said I'm firing you pack up it's time to go what would you do. Well of course I would not do that. I can hear you. My answer would be no. And you would not pack up a new and ugly map because you think the president doesn't have the authority. Is that why you would gladly. I have I'm kind of said what I what I've. Intended to say on the subject and what I've said is that the law clearly gives me a four year term and I fully intend to serve it. Matt van covers the Fed force he's you know Matt Palma pretty clear there is not going anywhere why is that such a big deal. Well that and this is just a continuation and a long public feud between the president and his own pick for the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell. I'm the president has long signaled is displeasure with chairman Powell he told our own George Stephanopoulos last month that he's running out of patience. With that Sherman today we saw several committee Democrats and even Republicans say that they would come to his support if the president were to try to oust him. So that's a big deal stability for the markets that don't. He had this that he's not going anywhere big deal the watch mad and thanks for some thanks for your reporting much more. On ABC news that convicts return us today here on ABC news live here every 3:30 eastern time. But in a brief her hope you join us tomorrow at this time on ABC news five and DeVon norm Washington CNN.

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