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Trump labor secretary broke the law with accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal: federal judge

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A federal judge ruled Thursday that US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta broke the law when giving a plea deal to accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Miami Herald reported that U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra wrote in his opinion that Acosta’s plea deal with Epstein, which was executed when the labor secretary was US attorney in Miami, unlawfully concealed the agreement from “more than 30 of his underage victims.”

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Marra also enumerated Epstein’s alleged crimes, noting that the billionaire connected to Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton “used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him” and “worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”

Acosta’s plea deal with Epstein has in recent months come under scrutiny for what many believe was a “slap-wrist” punishment for the politically-connected billionaire’s sex crimes.

“Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws,” the report noted, Acosta “helped negotiate a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.”

Epstein instead pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges and served a mere 13 months in prison.

“Acosta agreed to seal the deal,” the Herald noted, “which meant that none of Epstein’s victims, who were mostly 13 to 16 years old at the time of the abuse, were told about it until it was too late for them to appear at his sentencing and possibly reject the deal.”

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Sondland is in ‘tremendous trouble’ no matter how he tries to change his testimony tomorrow: NYT columnist

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On Tuesday, in the wake of testimony from several witnesses in the impeachment hearing that broadly implicated EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in improper backchannel foreign policy, New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali suggested that Sondland is in "tremendous trouble" — and that no testimony he could give tomorrow will get him out of this mess:

No. He will be trying to save himself. The perjury plus multiple stellar witnesses paint a damning portrait. He's in tremendous trouble. https://t.co/CxN5w0EErb

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Even the Republican witnesses make Donald Trump look like a depraved criminal

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The second half of Tuesday's hearing offered something new in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry: Witnesses called by the Republican minority on the House Intelligence Committee. It's understandable why Republicans would want these two men.

One of them was Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide who is among the few people directly exposed to Trump's famous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who claims to believe there was nothing wrong with it. The other was Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, who appears to have been a major actor in Trump's extortion scheme in that country. Indeed, Volker was deemed one of the "three amigos" — along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump donor/EU ambassador Gordon Sondland — who Trump entrusted with Ukrainian relations as he exerted increasing pressure on the country's leaders to give into his extortion scheme.

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Impeachment: Trump’s ‘hearsay’ defense just crashed and burned

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In the panoply of contradictory and incoherent defenses of Donald Trump, a favorite of Republicans has been to harp on the claim that witnesses to Trump's extortion scheme against Ukraine were all "second-hand" or "third-hand." This has always been confounding, as the official summary readout of the famous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump clearly conditioning military aid and U.S. support on Zelensky giving a public boost to Trump's conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders. The witnesses so far have simply affirmed what the written record demonstrates amply.

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