Michelle Goldberg Comments on Labor Secretary Acosta’s Resignation and the “Caligula Administration”

Dear Commons Community,

President Donald Trump yesterday announced that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta will step down from his post amid renewed scrutiny over his role in overseeing a 2007 plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein over allegations he sexually abused underage girls.

Trump and Acosta appeared together at the White House to announce the resignation.

Epstein’s arrest on Sunday for similar charges to the ones he faced more than a decade ago had prompted immediate calls for Acosta’s resignation over his involvement in a controversial non-prosecution deal that allowed Epstein to avoid a full federal investigation and possible life sentence. 

In a news conference on Wednesday, Acosta defended his handling of the deal. He declined to offer an apology to Epstein’s victims and instead appeared to blame other prosecutors involved in the non-plea agreement for the decision not to inform victims of the deal.

Trump had previously said that he felt “very badly” for Acosta over the renewed scandal. 

This morning, Michelle Goldberg commented on this latest development in Trump’s presidency by referring to it as the “Calugula Administration.”   To support her assertion, she reviewed some of the goings-on as follows:

“On Monday, Donald Trump disinvited the then-British ambassador, Kim Darroch, from an official administration dinner with the emir of Qatar, because he was mad about leaked cables in which Darroch assessed the president as “insecure” and “incompetent.”

There was room at the dinner, however, for Trump’s friend Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who was charged in a prostitution sting this year. Kraft was allegedly serviced at a massage parlor that had once been owned by Li Yang, known as Cindy, a regular at Trump’s club Mar-a-Lago. Yang is now the target of an F.B.I. inquiry into whether she funneled Chinese money into Trump’s political operation.

An ordinary president would not want to remind the world of the Kraft and Yang scandals at a time when Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest has hurled Trump’s other shady associations back into the limelight. Epstein, indicted on charges of abusing and trafficking underage girls, was a friend of Trump’s until the two had a falling out, reportedly over a failed business deal. The New York Times reported on a party Trump threw at Mar-a-Lago whose only guests were him, Epstein and around two dozen women “flown in to provide the entertainment.”

Epstein, of course, was also linked to the administration in another way. The president’s labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, was the United States attorney who oversaw a secret, obscenely lenient deal that let Epstein escape federal charges for sex crimes over a decade ago. On Friday, two days after a tendentious, self-serving news conference defending his handling of the Epstein case, Acosta finally resigned.

Even with Acosta gone, however, Epstein remains a living reminder of the depraved milieu from which the president sprang, and of the corruption and misogyny that continue to swirl around him. Trump has been only intermittently interested in distancing himself from that milieu. More often he has sought, whether through strategy or instinct, to normalize it.”

Don’t hold back, Ms. Goldberg!


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