Fallout from the shocking sex-trafficking case against billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is reaching into the Trump administration.
A 2007 plea deal that allowed Epstein to walk free after 13 months in jail is coming under scrutiny, spotlighting US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta who was the US attorney for Florida at the time.
Epstein is charged with running a sex trafficking ring involving teenaged girls.
A federal indictment charges he "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls -- some as young as 14," at his mansions in Manhattan, Palm Beach, FL, and other locations.
President Trump was pressed Tuesday about his relationship with Epstein, a man he once praised but eventually barred from his Mar a Lago resort.
"He was a fixture in Palm Beach," said Trump. "I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don't think I've spoken to him in 15 years. I wasn't a fan. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you."
Former President Bill Clinton, who also knew Epstein said in a statement he "knows nothing about the terrible crimes...and that he's not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade."
Statement on Jeffrey Epstein. pic.twitter.com/98ha9YYd1l
— Angel Ureña (@angelurena) July 8, 2019
Clinton once said through a spokesman, "Jeffrey is both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science. I especially appreciated his insights and generosity during the recent trip to Africa to work on democratization, empowering the poor, citizen service, and combating HIV/AIDS."
A growing number of Democrats are calling on Labor Secretary Acosta to resign for his role in granting Epstein immunity years ago in a similar case in Florida in 2007.
"If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Epstein served just 13 months in county jail and was forced to register as a sex offender after that Florida case.
Acosta tweeted about the new charges saying, "The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."
The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019
Epstein's case highlights the growing problem of sex trafficking in America.
The non-profit group Polaris estimates there are hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims in the country.
Experts say traffickers target society's most vulnerable, and according to the Miami Herald, most of Epstein's victims came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes, or foster care.
On CBN's Newswatch program, Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry, a group committed to abolishing sex trafficking, said traffickers are often people no one expects.
"They're people who are in business and government and the clergy and positions of authority in our society," said Mickelwait. "It's not just some seedy person in the underworld that's engaging in these activities."
Mickelwait also said language needs to be more direct when it comes to victims and traffickers.
"Calling men who buy sex 'customers', thinking of traffickers and pimps as just ordinary businessmen; it's a truly sinister movement to try and normalize prostitution which we know is a system of exploitation of the most vulnerable in our midst, especially children," she said. "Most of them who are in prostitution as adults entered underage."
"One legal scholar said women in prostitution are just children in prostitution who were lucky enough to live long enough to become women in prostitution," explained Mickelwait.
Meanwhile, President Trump says he'll look closely at the 2007 plea deal, but for now, he's standing by Secretary Acosta.