There is a curious pattern in the Trump Administration that you need to beware of presidential praise which often proves the swan song for cabinet members. The latest is Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta who tried to keep his job with a press conference that was widely panned as trying to shift the blame for the sweetheart deal that he gave Jeffrey Epstein, the serial sex abuser. Since I previously called for Acosta’s resignation (and opposed his confirmation) based on his role in the Epstein scandal, I will not feign sympathy.
Acosta phoned President Trump this morning, though it is likely that the White House indicated that it would welcome such a call.
Previously, President Trump declared that he continued to support Acosta and that “he did an unbelievable job as secretary of Labor” and is a “very good man.” Various pundits joked at the time that Acosta’s day must be numbered.
It is important to note that, despite the objections of many of us who have followed the Epstein scandal, Acosta was confirmed by 60 Senators from both parties.
I am usually more sympathetic when people fall from a great height but Acosta’s press conference only reaffirmed the negative view that many of us have developed of Acosta. He blamed state prosecutors and even seemed to portray 2007 as the virtual dark ages when victim rights and transparency were unknown values. His plea bargain was a disgrace and violated federal law. The result worked to the harm of dozens of victims and undermined the integrity of the justice system as a whole. The real question is not why he resigned but why 60 Democratic and Republican senators voted to confirm this man.
It is also another example of poor decision making by this White House to bring on such a controversial figure and then allow this scandal to fester and explode back on the Administration. This is the thirteenth cabinet member to leave this Administration. In the same period, I believe that Obama and George W. Bush had none or one, respectively. While Trump has lashed out at the media, this turnover shows something serious wrong in the vetting and judgment of the White House. The turnover and vacancies have added to a sense of chaos in the Administration.