As President Trump’s political opponents call for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign over his handling of a 2008 sex-trafficking case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein, one Democratic figure appears to be avoiding scrutiny, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Napolitano told Fox News’ “The Story” Wednesday that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s role in the previous Epstein case was “more than curious and merits investigation.”
“And I suggest to you it may very well be under investigation,” Napolitano added.
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Host Martha MacCallum pointed to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece claiming that in 2011 Vance sought to “undo Mr. Acosta’s work by relieving Mr. Epstein of his Level 3 sex offender status in New York State,” which would have kept Epstein off the sex offender list.
MacCallum said the judge in that case denied the request, saying he felt “overwhelmed” by it and never heard of such a recommendation before.
Napolitano claimed if observers read closer into remarks the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York made about the Epstein case this week, they might draw conclusions about whether the Manhattan prosecutor is the subject of any probe.
“Geoff Berman, the U.S. Attorney [for the Southern District of New York] … who revealed the recent indictment of Epstein, said at this press conference what he didn’t need to say — that there are two teams investigating the Epstein matter,” he explained.
“One is the sex trafficking team, of course. The other is the public corruption team. Public corruption — who could they be investigating? Secretary Acosta … and D.A. Vance for allowing this person, Jeff Epstein, with the record with which D.A. Vance was familiar, to slip under the radar and continue to do these horrific acts right underneath the nose of the district attorney here in New York.”
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Turning to Acosta’s tenure, Napolitano said he believed the cabinet official — who was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time of the 2008 Epstein case — did not sound “persuasive” or passionate in his public remarks Wednesday.
“There was no outrage,” he said.
However, Napolitano added he thought the transcript of the remarks were, “lawyerly and very methodical.”
Trump, the Fox News senior judicial analyst suggested, should “wash his hands” of Acosta and the accompanying controversy.
Epstein was required to register as a sex offender in Miami in 2008 as part of a nonprosecution plea deal agreed to by Acosta that resulted in an 18-month jail sentence. (He served just 13 months for solicitation of prostitution involving one underage victim.)
Just three years after that plea, a sex crimes prosecutor, Assistant Manhattan DA Jennifer Gaffney, pleaded with a federal judge to allow Epstein to downgrade his registered-sex-offender status from Level 3 to the lowest possible classification, Level 1, despite an assessment by a Florida board.
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Despite the assessment that Epstein was a dangerous sex offender likely to prey on young women again, Vance’s office argued on his behalf, much to the shock of Justice Ruth Pickholz, who ruled against this assertion at the time.
A spokesman for Vance told the New York Post that the district attorney was unaware of the maneuver and pinned the situation on Gaffney, telling the paper: “Our prosecutor made a mistake.”
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.