I mean, who else is there to feel bad for in a story about young girls being serially preyed upon by some super-rich Eyes-Wide-Shut-style degenerate?

As I recall, he spoke this way about Rob Porter too before Porter ultimately chose to parachute out of the White House under media pressure. If Acosta follows suit, it would inch us further towards the surreal yet increasingly attainable goal of an entire cabinet of “acting” secretaries.

If you’re tempted to feel bad for him, pause here and read Ken “Popehat” White’s piece about the sinister weirdness of the plea deal Acosta made with Jeffrey Epstein when he was a U.S. Attorney in Florida. It’d be one thing to sympathize with Acosta if he’d simply used bad judgment in giving a break to a criminal who then reoffended. Mistakes happen. This isn’t bad judgment, though, insists White, who’s spent his professional life on both sides of federal criminal trials. This is a sweetheart deal so sickeningly sweet, involving heinous sex offenses, that a non-corrupt explanation for it isn’t obvious.

Epstein’s team secured the deal of the millennium, one utterly unlike anything else I’ve seen in 25 years of practicing federal criminal law. Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges, register as a sex offender, and spend 13 months in county jail, during which time he was allowed to spend 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, out of the jail on “work release.” In exchange, the Southern District of Florida abandoned its criminal investigation of Epstein’s conduct, agreed not to prosecute him federally, and—incredibly—agreed not to prosecute anyone else who helped him procure underage girls for sex. This is not normal; it is astounding…

Every federal plea agreement I’ve ever seen includes a clause saying that it binds only the U.S. Attorney’s Office signing it, not any other office. Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement conspicuously, and very oddly, lacks that clause—which further demonstrates the suspicious nature of the deal.

It’s not like Epstein had committed a minor offense or that the evidence against him was thin, notes White. Acosta had firsthand witnesses. God only knows how many girls have been victimized by Epstein since he finished serving the wrist-slap sentence Acosta arranged for him. And that’s not all. Reporter Vicky Ward, who’s been chasing this story for nearly 20 years, notes today at the Daily Beast that “federal prosecutors agreed to keep the [plea] deal secret from Epstein’s victims, which meant they would not know to challenge it in court. As it turned out, this actually broke the law, because victims have a right to know of such developments, under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.”

Why didn’t Team Trump hold all of this against Acosta and look elsewhere for a Secretary of Labor, you ask? If you believe WaPo, it’s because they didn’t bother to inquire: “There was no substantial vetting done on Acosta until after Trump decided to nominate him, according to current and former administration officials.”

Pelosi, Schumer, and various Democratic 2020 candidates have called on him to quit. Acosta’s trying to placate them, but good luck riding out the months to come of media attention to Epstein:

Inevitably Democrats will try to force him to testify about this, if only to humiliate Trump. Does Trump still want him on the federal payroll when that happens?

By the way, one of the many dark subplots to Epstein’s reign of terror is how exactly he became a man of such phenomenal wealth and power to begin with. That’s the whole key to his deal with Acosta, notes White; when you can afford to hire any lawyer in America, you can “go on offense” against the U.S. Attorney in court and in the media, raising the proverbial price of a prosecution. Epstein’s ability to operate with impunity boils down to his money. But … how was that money acquired? It’s a strange yet apparently true fact that no one really knows quite how this fabulously rich and well-connected scumbag earned his millions — or is it billions?

The bulk of Epstein’s wealth is believed to come from his money-management firm for ten-figure investors, although his only known client is Victoria’s Secret founder Les Wexner, who reportedly ditched Epstein over a decade ago.

After sex-trafficking charges were handed down on Monday, executive-suite financiers discussed how absent Epstein was from the field: “He’s supposed to run an enormous FX [foreign-exchange] trading firm,” said Enrique Diaz-Alvarez, chief risk officer at Ebury. “But I never once heard of him or his firm or anyone who worked or traded with him.” And as Forbes wrote in a 2010 blog with a very direct title — “Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Is Not a Billionaire” — his money-management firm based in the U.S. Virgin Islands “generates no public records, nor has his client list ever been released.”

Epstein made his name in finance initially at Bear Stearns, rising to become a partner in just four years. Then he set off to start his own firm, and the story got stranger:

Where’d he get his clients? Is his wealth a pure product of Wexner’s business? If so, if Epstein was such a crack investor for Wexner, how come his clientele didn’t expand to many more well-known figures? And how was it that a brash young Bear Stearns partner allegedly was able to convince billionaires to invest with him instead of Wall Street’s many alternatives?

Is it possible that maybe finance wasn’t Jeffrey Epstein’s chief business, that he made his money in procuring other … commodities? Reading about the question marks surrounding his income last night and knowing how well-known he seemed to be to so many rich and famous men gave me the same sort of shudder one gets at the end of “Se7en” when the mystery box is produced. You’ve got a strong sinking suspicion of what’s in that box, but you can’t bear to have it confirmed. Same with Epstein and his cash flow. Who was funding this wretch, and for what, exactly?