Ben Sasse Is Wrong: Keep the 17th Amendment

Senator Ben Sasse (R., NE) attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2020.
(Tom Williams/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse on Thursday slammed the Justice Department’s investigative report that concluded former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta did not engage in misconduct in 2008 when he approved a sweetheart non-prosecution agreement for billionaire and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

The DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded in an executive summary released Thursday that Acosta, then a U.S. Attorney in Florida, exercised “poor judgment” in approving the 2008 plea deal to end a federal probe into Epstein but said there was no evidence of professional misconduct on Acosta’s part.

“Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment’ – it is a disgusting failure,” Sasse said in a statement. “Americans ought to be enraged. Jeffrey Epstein should be rotting behind bars today, but the Justice Department failed Epstein’s victims at every turn. The DOJ’s crooked deal with Epstein effectively shut down investigations into his child sex trafficking ring and protected his co-conspirators in other states. Justice has not been served.”

The Nebraska Republican called for the full report on the investigation to be released publicly, saying “we have an obligation to make sure this never happens again.”

Sasse had urged the DOJ since 2018 to open an investigation into Acosta and the Epstein plea deal. The department eventually launched a probe in February of last year.

Epstein was convicted in 2008 by a Florida state court of procuring a minor for prostitution. The federal non-prosecution agreement Acosta approved was brokered in secret and without consulting any of the 36 girls federal officials had identified as Epstein’s alleged abuse victims, some of whom were as young as 14 years old. A federal judge later ruled it illegal for violating the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Acosta served as labor secretary in the Trump administration until he resigned in July last year following criticism of his involvement in the Epstein case.

Epstein, a registered sex offender, was arrested in July of last year on federal charges of sex trafficking minors in New York as well as Florida. He died the next month in his Manhattan jail cell as he was awaiting trial, and his death was ruled a suicide.

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