Shepard Smith slams Labor Secretary Acosta over defense of 2008 Epstein deal

July 11, 2019

Shepard Smith joined the chorus of angry Democrats by piling on President Donald Trump’s Labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, for his role in Jeffrey Epstein’s 2008 plea deal — a topic that conveniently offered him a chance to take aim at another of his favorite targets, the commander in chief himself.

True to form, the Never-Trump Fox host blasted Acosta’s defense of a secret “sweetheart” plea deal that he helped arrange with the billionaire pedophile over a decade ago, The Hill reports. Democrats have called on Acosta to resign over his role in the non-prosecution agreement, which sent Epstein to jail for a mere 13 months for abusing dozens of underage girls, according to CBS News.

Epstein’s indictment Monday on new sex trafficking and conspiracy charges have brought renewed scrutiny to the plea bargain Acosta helped facilitate with the sex offender when he was a U.S. Attorney in Florida. But the Acosta scandal has quickly evolved into an anti-Trump outrage: Trump critics are disingenuously using Acosta’s plea deal to attack Trump for Epstein’s crimes.

Smith, who never misses an opportunity to attack Trump, hasn’t let this one pass by either. This begs the question: How much of Smith’s anger is due to the fact that Acosta works for Trump? 

Shep lets loose

The controversial Florida plea deal required Epstein to register as a sex offender, pay restitution to certain victims, and spend 13 months in jail — during which he was allowed to leave custody during the day to operate his business — in effect letting Epstein escape a possible life sentence by pleading guilty to two state-level prostitution charges.

Acosta defended the plea deal at a press conference Wednesday, in which he blamed state prosecutors for wanting to let Epstein “walk free” before his office intervened. Acosta touted his office’s role in having Epstein register as a sex offender, saying they did the best they could do with the evidence at the time.

On his show, Smith played a clip of Acosta defending the plea: “the goal here was straightforward: put Epstein behind bars, ensure he registered as a sexual offender, provide victims with a means to seek restitution, and protect the public by putting them on notice that a sexual predator was in their midst,” Acosta said.

Smith blasted Acosta’s defense, saying that Epstein went to jail “part-time” for crimes that could have sent him to jail for life.

“But Epstein did not stay behind bars for very long,” Smith said. “The deal that Acosta worked out, The Miami Herald called ‘the deal of a lifetime.’ It allowed Jeffrey Epstein to plead to solicitation of prostitution and served just 13 months after an 18-month agreement instead of potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars. When Epstein did go to jail, it was part-time, six days a week Epstein was allowed out of jail to go to work, 12 hours a day.”

Smith went on: “Acosta said today it was not what he bargained for and that’s not what he expected… But it is what happened,” Smith added, noting that victims were not notified of the secret plea agreement.

Politicizing justice

The White House has stood by Acosta, but Democrats have rejected Acosta’s defense and doubled down on calling for him to step down. The talking points have been distributed, and Democrats are all blaring the same message in unison (with Smith): Acosta needs to go, and Trump deserves blames, too, for hiring him in the first place

“Nothing said by Sec. Acosta at his press conference changes the verdict: he must go. Despite his attempts to justify it, his unconscionable sweetheart deal [with] sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein still stinks. This secret deal was immoral—a betrayal of young survivors [and] basic justice,” tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concurred in a tweet of her own:

It’s all part of an effort to link Trump with Epstein via a member of his Cabinet. There are at least two degrees of separation here: Trump critics are attacking the president because a man who now works in his administration once gave a slap on the wrist to a sick monster who is finally getting the punishment he deserves.

The left has also focused on Trump’s past social relationship with Epstein, which Trump says ended years ago, while summarily ignoring connections between Epstein and Democrats like president Bill Clinton.

Oddly, the Daily Beast reported this week that Acosta told Trump transition officials that he went easy on Epstein because he “belonged to intelligence” — so there may be more to the story than Acosta’s discretion in the matter. Was there something more nefarious at work?

Smith is right about one thing: the “punishment” that Epstein faced, in proportion to his crimes, was a joke. But would the left have the same reaction if Acosta was working in Obama’s administration? Is it all just a coincidence that Smith, whose talking points often sound like they were lifted from Democratic National Committee memos, is reading from the same anti-Trump script as the Democrats?

The left is politicizing justice. Is Smith mad at Acosta, or just glad for another opportunity to attack the president?


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.