Trump administration’s tumultuous week ends with Acosta resignation

Updated : Sep 10, 2019 in Articles

Trump administration’s tumultuous week ends with Acosta resignation


JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. secretary of labor,
Alex Acosta, is out. When President Trump met with reporters at
the White House today, he had Acosta by his side to announce his resignation, just before
Mr. Trump left for a trip to Wisconsin. Acosta had held a news conference of his own
earlier this week, defending his involvement in a 2008 lawsuit involving alleged sex trafficker
Jeffrey Epstein, who then received a jail sentence that critics have called unusually
lenient. Today, Acosta criticized news coverage of
the case, but said he didn’t want to be a distraction to the administration’s work. The president paid him a compliment. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard, a great student. And in so many ways, I just hate what he’s
saying now, because we’re going to miss him. But, please, Alex. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. Secretary of Labor:
It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case
that’s 12 years old, rather than about the amazing economy we have right now. And so I submitted my resignation to the president,
effective seven days from today, effective one week from today, earlier this morning. JUDY WOODRUFF: The “NewsHour”‘s Yamiche Alcindor
was at the White House this morning. And she joins me now here in the studio. So, Yamiche, this Epstein story keeps growing. Late today, we learned there was a court filing
in New York that accuses Mr. Epstein of witness tampering, paying potential witnesses against
him $350,000. So we are watching that new development. But, in the meantime, as we said, you were
at the White House. You were there on the South Lawn. How did this resignation come about? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, this was an uncomfortable
moment at the end of an uncomfortable week for Secretary Acosta. There is a thing call a perp walk, where local
officials, local police department sometimes tell reporters when a criminal defendant or
a high-profile suspect is going to be coming into the police station. That’s what this felt like today. It felt like Alex Acosta was being brought
before the cameras to really explain to people that he was the problem, that he’s a distraction
amongst all the great things that the Trump administration is doing. And it’s important to remember how we got
here. And how we got here is, the president essentially
forced Secretary Acosta to go before cameras earlier this week. He encouraged him to have a press conference,
where he was defending himself against this backlash. The president then took a couple of days to
think about how he did in that press conference, and decided that he just basically didn’t
do well enough. So the president is saying that this was Secretary
Acosta’s idea, but, in reality, the president decided that he was not going to be able to
stay on because he didn’t look good for the administration. Then you add to the idea that the president
is now trying to really distance himself from Jeffrey Epstein. They were good friends. They used to party together, have at times
young women, not underage women, but young women, at these parties. But these new charges against Epstein of essentially
paying witnesses to not talk about the things that they might know about his possible human
trafficking and abuse of children shows that this isn’t going to go away. So, even though Alex Acosta is now leaving
the administration, effective on July 19, what we see is that the president might still
be having to deal with this. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we heard the president,
as you — as you say, further distancing himself today from Jeffrey Epstein. So, Yamiche, we know now there have been a
number of high-level departures from the administration, one Cabinet secretary after another. How does what happened today with Acosta add
to this upheaval that’s been going on? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The revolving door at the
White House just keeps on spinning. What we have is Secretary Acosta becoming
one of just a number of Cabinet officials who have been forced out or resigned or even
fired at times. I want to put up a graphic for people, an
image of what — some of the people that have left the administration on there. We have Patrick Shanahan, who was the acting
secretary of defense. He withdrew, and he — the president withdrew
his nomination to be a permanent defense secretary because of domestic violence allegations. Scott Pruitt was forced out because he had
issues with first-class travel and possible cozy relationships with lobbyists. You had Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who
resigned because he was essentially upset by the president’s announcement that he was
going to be withdrawing troops from Syria. So there are a number of people who have left
this administration in controversy. And then add to that the fact that they are
now going to be even more acting secretaries in this administration. So you’re going to have an acting labor secretary. You’re going to have an acting defense secretary,
an acting U.N. ambassador. So there’s this — in some ways, this administration
is going to be having so many people in these acting roles. And what’s important about that is that these
are people that are really going to now be limited. They’re not going to be able to really have
the agendas or be able to make the decisions that they might be able to make if they had
permanent jobs within the administration. And it’s also important to note that there
are no Latinos in the administration right now. Alex Acosta, as the president was praising
him, was the only Latino member of the president’s administration. JUDY WOODRUFF: And these acting positions,
as you point out, because they haven’t been confirmed by the Senate, which is what one
needs to do to be able to carry out the official duties. Finally, Yamiche, another issue, one of the
many other issues boiling at the White House, and that is what are expected to be these
large-scale immigrant — raids on immigrants around the country by ICE. What more was the president saying about that
this morning? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president insists that
these raids are going to be happening. He said that they’re going to start on Sunday. I put the question to him, what do you think
of the fact that now everyone knows about this? Is it putting law enforcement and the public
at risk? Here’s what he told me: DONALD TRUMP: It’s not something I like doing,
but people have come into our country illegally. It starts on Sunday. And they’re going to take people out. And they’re going to bring them back to their
countries, or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison
in the countries they came from. We’re focused on criminals as much as we can. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president said he’s
focused on criminals. But there are a lot of people who think families
are going to be caught up in this. There’s going to be this thing called collateral
deportations, where even if you’re not an immigrant who’s being targeted, if you’re
in the wrong place at the wrong time, you might be swept up in these. There are some agents who have told news reporters
that they’re worried about having to deport babies and having to deal with families. Add to that the fact that there are all these
groups that are going to now be setting up hot lines and rapid-response networks to try
to really give support to immigrants who are really bracing for the worst. One immigrant today told a national network
that they feel like a hurricane is coming. So there are people that are missing work,
that are really, really scared about this. But the president says that this must happen. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of uncertainty around
that. And we’re going to be following it all weekend
and, of course, reporting on it on Monday. Yamiche Alcindor, thank you. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks.

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