More On The Acosta-Epstein Scandal: Leadership, Moral Luck, Accountability, And Scapegoating

Veteran commenter Glenn Logan expressed  doubts about the fairness of current criticism of the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta (above right) for his approval of a ridiculously lenient plea deal for jet-setting sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein (above left). Glenn’s objections  prompted me to search for prior posts here on the ethics issue of high level accountability for disasters and fiascos. In this morning’s warm-up, #3, I discussed the reasons I feel the criticism of Acosta is justified (re Glenn’s complaint that journalists are determined to destroy Acosta because of his connection to their primary target, the President, my response is that  critics being biased and having unethical motives doesn’t mean their criticism is necessarily wrong), and concluded,

“Finally, there is the basic ethical issue of accountability. Prosecutors allowed Epstein’s lawyers to talk them into a ridiculously lenient plea deal with minimal prison time for a privileged criminal and sexual predator with endless resources and a high likelihood of recidivism. It was completely predictable that he would continue to harm women after his release, and the new charges against Epstein show that he did exactly as expected.It is appropriate that someone’s head roll for this, and Acosta’s is the logical choice.”

Glenn responded that this sounded more “like scapegoating than accountability.” “’Somebody must pay,’ he said, “is not convincing to me.” Hence my search of the Ethics Alarms archive. This is a topic of long-standing interest for me, in great part due to my military-minded father.

I also recently watched the Netflix series “Bad Blood,” about Montreal’s Mafia. The accountability of leadership is a recurring theme in that series:  we see the father of the future head of the powerful Rizzuto family telling his son as a boy that he is now responsible for caring for and cultivating several tomato plants. “If a plant produces good tomatoes,” the father explains, ” you will be rewarded. If a plant produces poor tomatoes, you will be punished.” Even if the reasons a plant fails to produce good tomatoes has nothing to do with the son’s efforts and were beyond his control, the father goes on to say, “I will still punish you. For that is the burden of leadership. When that for which a leader is responsible goes wrong, he must be accountable and pay the price whether it is his fault or not. Only then is he worthy of his followers trust.”

The most relevant Ethics Alarms post on the subject, I was surprised to find, was from way back in 2011. Not so surprising was the fact that the post involved baseball. VERY surprising to me was that the post attracted not a single comment, despite what I consider to be, as Glenn’s comments proved, a controversial position on an important leadership and ethics topic.

Here it is again. The background: in 2011, the Boston Red Sox went into the final quadrant of the season far ahead of their division, the American League East. Inexplicably, the wheels fell off of the chariot. In September, the team lost its ability to win baseball games as well as its lead, and eventually fell so far that it needed to win the final game of the season to clinch a play-off slot. The 2011 Sox blew a ninth inning lead in that game against the last place Baltimore Orioles, and the worst late season collapse in team history was complete.

Barack Obama, and indeed all leaders, current and future, have reason to heed the results of meeting to be held today between the ownership of the Boston Red Sox and the traumatized team’s manager of eight years, Terry Francona. Francona will learn whether his tenure—he is beyond question the most successful manager in the team’s century-plus existence—will end as a consequence of his squad’s historic and inexplicable collapse, robbing it of the play-off spot that seemed guaranteed less than a month ago.

The team has an option on the manager’s services for another two years, and could pick it up, quickly and easily, as a statement that Francona was not at fault for what occurred. And he was not at fault. The combination of events that caused the disaster was unlikely and unpredictable right up until the moment when Tampa Bay’s Devil Rays third baseman Evan Longoria became the first player since the Giants’ Bobby Thompson in 1951 to put his team in the post-season with a walk-off home-run.

Nor was most of what occurred in the horrible September that will haunt Red Sox fans dreams’ all winter like Freddy Krueger remotely subject to Francona’s control.  One of the major ingredients in the recipe that could cost him his job, for example, was a seemingly desperate and bone-headed maneuver by the Devil Rays manager, Joe Maddon, who, having one last batter to stave off defeat with two outs in the ninth inning and the Rays trialing by a run, chose a .108 hitter for the job. Naturally, he hit a game-tying home run.

Being at fault, however, is not the same as being accountable. A leader is always accountable for disasters and misfortune under his or her authority; fault is irrelevant. If an employee caused the mess, the leader allowed the employee to be in a position to do so. If an unexpected event threw the leader’s brilliant plans into disarray, he or she is accountable for not adopting a different plan. Organizational disasters, whether it is Abu Ghraib, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or Pearl Harbor, cannot and must not be attributed to factors beyond leadership’s control, nor should they occur without real consequences attaching to those in charge. Without the certainty of accountability, leaders will be tempted to occupy precious time constructing ways to shift blame and punishment to others, and this leads, inevitably, to weaker and less trustworthy leaders. Worse still, it causes the constituencies of leaders to lose faith and trust in the organizations they lead.

Sports is a valuable simulation of society and life in general, and the plight of a team that fails when it should have succeeded is a simplified but still valid model for businesses, movements and nations. Unless team leaders are held accountable, fans of the team will conclude that success of failure just doesn’t matter to the ownership very much, and if it doesn’t matter to the team itself, why should the fans care? I could identify five individual players whose poor play and miserable performance under pressure was infinitely more responsible for the Red Sox crash than anything Terry Francona did as manager, but both practically and symbolically, making a single player the scapegoat is both ineffective and unfair (Red Sox fans: See Buckner, Bill). The manager is the obvious and proper target, both because he is the face of the team, and also because his punishment makes the necessary point with the least damage to the organization.  The Red Sox lost with a lot of good players playing a part, but gutting the personnel is both risky, expensive, and contractually impossible. Francona is a good man, and in many ways the perfect manager in the uniquely pressurized baseball-crazy culture of Boston, with its carnivorous media, but he is still only one man, and like all managers, indeed like all leaders, replaceable.

If he loses his job, it will be another reminder of the power of Moral Luck, the phenomenon which causes us to judge an action based on its consequences rather than the action itself. Moral Luck is related to Consequentialism, the invalid ethical theory that holds that we should assess the rightness of conduct by whether it leads to good results. Moral Luck is not a system or a theory, however; it is just reality, and hard side of accountability. Two identical drivers, both intoxicated, take the same route home: one reaches his destination safely, and the other would have, if a child on a bicycle hadn’t suddenly veered into his path. His intoxication may or may not have stopped him from braking on time, but it doesn’t matter: he will be a pariah in the community, and will probably be sent to jail….and he will deserve it. The only difference between him and his neighbor is luck, and yet that luck causes us to regard his act as worse, because he is accountable for the horrible consequences.

A statistician has determined that at 11:30 PM on Wednesday evening, the odds against the Red Sox being eliminated from the pennant race were 7000 to one. That the one materialized was not the fault of Terry Francona, and had it not occurred, he would not be on the carpet today. Like all leaders he is accountable, however, and when the Boston Red Sox organization makes the necessary symbolic gesture to show that it expected better, expects better, and will not allow failure to be tolerated, minimized, shrugged off or rationalized away, Francona is likely to be the one who must bear the burden of that failure and be the victim of that gesture.

It is one of the most important, if one of the most unpleasant,  duties of leadership.

(Terry Francona was indeed fired, and General Manager Theo Epstein resigned as well.)


33 thoughts on “More On The Acosta-Epstein Scandal: Leadership, Moral Luck, Accountability, And Scapegoating

  1. In my mind, Acosta can only be scapegoated if he wasn’t in control. Was Acosta in complete control of that prosecution or was he ordered/induced to accept the plea deal? The outcome doesn’t mean he shouldn’t resign, the outcome just determines why he should resign. If Acosta was ordered to let Epstein walk with the lousy plea deal and he went along with it, he is being scapegoated and is still protecting those responsible. However, he should resign for not standing up against such pressure. You could make an argument that he could be allowed to keep his job in the Justice Department because he was following orders and had no power to refuse, but you can’t argue that such a weak person who has ‘gone along to get along’ with such injustice should be Secretary of Labor.

    It has become increasingly clear that the entire government is corrupt and incompetent. You can laugh at Trump saying he was going to put ‘the best people’ in power, but he did. The are the best people our government has. Trump is looking at the recommendations of people withing the government to be promoted and these are the best names that come up. These are the best people, and they are all corrupt and incompetent. He puts person after person into positions, and each one is as corrupt and incompetent as the last. Where are the better people he should put in these positions? Were Obama’s appointees any better? Obama’s Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, scuttled the voting intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party when he was in the Justice Department. So Trump may have just be following the precedent that Secretaries of Labor must first let politically connected groups off when they commit crimes. It may be the prerequisite for the job.

    Trump was right, Washington D.C. is a swamp. Unfortunately, he keeps working under the assumption that there are a few good people left in that swamp. He keeps trying to find some good people in the swamp to help him drain it. I believe that hope is his biggest mistake.

  2. This is interesting, and I agree with much of it, but not all.

    Warning: This is going to be a long one. You may want to take a pass.

    I think it’s important at the outset that I make sure all and sundry understand that I have not taken the position Acosta should not be fired for his involvement in the faulty Epstein plea deal. I am rather taking the position that doing so may not be the right thing to do unless there is some kind of professional malfeasance involved. The reporting to date suggests there was, but I suspect it is incomplete.

    This series of events was complicated, and involved two separate sovereigns and their power to prosecute evildoers. There is also a ton of political clout in play.

    There is an argument that without the efforts of Acosta (and this is his position), Epstein would have effectively escaped punishment. If true, as described (and such things rarely are), Acosta is an ethics hero for an extraordinary intervention in the case. However, Jacks argument remains that even if true, the intervention was insufficient to the charges leveled, and it was a failure of leadership on Acosta’s part because a revolting criminal got away with a slap on the wrist. I agree with Jack that Epstein got away with crimes that he should’ve been held to account for.

    Where we agree less is what should be done to Acosta (absent his own intervention, i.e. unforced resignation). Jack depicts it thus, via the Netflix series “Bad Blood:”

    “If a plant produces good tomatoes,” the father explains, ” you will be rewarded. If a plant produces poor tomatoes, you will be punished.” Even if the reasons a plant fails to produce good tomatoes has nothing to do with the son’s efforts and were beyond his control, the father goes on to say, “I will still punish you. For that is the burden of leadership. When that for which a leader is responsible goes wrong, he must be accountable and pay the price whether it is his fault or not. Only then is he worthy of his followers trust.”

    As a former Navy man, I can tell you that there are circumstances where the allegory above are absolutely how things work. For example, if a ship runs aground, the captain is held responsible even if he was not at fault. This concept is known colloquially as “the buck stops here,” and is manifestly applicable to ship captains but not, for example, to engineering officers who are in charge of the ship’s power source, be it a nuclear reactor, gas turbine, etc. If the reactor scrams (an automatic protective shutdown), the engineer is not relieved — he may receive a reprimand or retrained, but he isn’t out of a job.

    Some leadership positions require absolute accountability to results. Not all of them, however, do. If they did, no leader would survive the least failure of leadership, or even an undesirable outcome. Moral luck would then dominate every job in America requiring leadership, and that is not desirable, or even necessary.

    In this case, Acosta isn’t the Attorney General of the United States, where failure of legal leadership as a U.S. Attorney would directly reflect directly on his current job. Indeed, for Acosta to lose his current job as Labor Secretary over his actions of over a decade ago in a distantly related job, it should be because his judgment was so revoltingly reprehensible that his future leadership cannot be trusted. After all, we have often debated the utility of change over time, and how previous mistakes may be considered learning events rather than permanent disqualifiers. The presence of an terrible outcome that is only visible through the lens of hindsight makes holding Acosta accountable much harder, and less just. He isn’t in that US Attorney’s job anymore, just as the persons responsible for slavery are not around anymore to hold accountable with reparations. I guess we could scapegoat Mitch McConnell, as NBC tried to do, but I just can’t go along with that.

    So while I understand Jack’s position that scapegoating is sometimes necessary for the greater good of society, I consider that an appeal to emotion. “We have to be made whole, so somebody must pay” just doesn’t resonate with me, and never will. If Acosta’s actual actions in the Epstein matter demonstrate disgustingly bad judgment, or political pandering viewed in the context of 2008, or some other abject failure of professional ability and leadership, I will fully support his dismissal. In fact, if no further mitigating facts come into evidence in the matter than we have today, I will support it right now.

    But because I believe there are many more facts to be disclosed, I am inclined to reserve judgment until the picture is more clear. Acosta may be the most high-profile scapegoat we can throw under the bus for the good of our feelz, but that can’t be the only qualifier for his demotion. And while we can consider anybody we want as the captain of whatever their area of authority, real life doesn’t and shouldn’t work that way.

    • Now I’ve read it! I agree that facts matter. “The Buck Stops Here,” even in the Navy, has produced some terrible injustices, as with the Captain of “The Indianapolis,” who we now know was blameless but who was the chosen one to be designated at fault for that fiasco.I think scapegoat can only fairly be used in its original sense, someone or something blamed who was obviously and completely innocent of fault, just to have blame assigned. That can’t be what Acosta is—he did agree to the plea deal, and he didn’t have to. Because Epstein was so rich and well-connected, because he had such wealthy friends, because he had hired a team of defense lawyers that no normal accused citizen could afford, because the crimes alleged were so horrific and because there is growing distrust of the justice system with a widespread belief that “laws are for the little people,” a competent, ethical prosecutor should have known that any deal not involving serious prison time would be disastrous, and indeed worse than losing the case. (If the jury acquits after a zealous prosecution, nobody can blame a conspiracy of elites. No, such a conspiracy wasn’t proven, but a predominance of the evidence suggests one absent a trial. Especially in a post like Labor, where the Secretary has to be beyond influences by corporate power, some one who failed this badly is a bad and unacceptable risk. I don’t need to know more. I cannot imagine anything on Eath that would make me entertain 13 months and work release for a defendant like Epstein. Losing at trial would be much preferable.

      • Thank you for your always-thoughtful and thought-provoking comment, Jack. Here is my response.

        I think scapegoat can only fairly be used in its original sense, someone or something blamed who was obviously and completely innocent of fault, just to have blame assigned. That can’t be what Acosta is—he did agree to the plea deal, and he didn’t have to.

        Well, in his current position, Acosta is innocent of fault, at least in the Epstein case. He hasn’t had the position of responsibility in which he could be considered at fault for over a decade.

        And I don’t agree that we must adhere to the “original” sense of the word, since that’s not the sense in which I meant it. Rather, I meant it in the sense that Acosta could be bearing the blame that may well belong to others not just because of his position of trust, but as a Trump administration cabinet secretary.

        That’s the big reason I would like to know all the facts, not just the ones that make Acosta look bad. It’s just too facile by half to toss Acosta under the bus without knowing the whole story because, in your words, “Somebody must pay,” and Acosta is the easy, convenient choice.

        It does society no good to fire a guy who turns out to have done nothing wrong in the context of the times in which the event took place. This is similar to the kind of thinking that produces the impulse for the Left to tear down statuary because the honorees, while often exemplary in their own time, were intolerably flawed by 2019 standards.

        …because there is growing distrust of the justice system with a widespread belief that “laws are for the little people,” a competent, ethical prosecutor should have known that any deal not involving serious prison time would be disastrous…

        But was that belief the same in 2008 as it is today — pre-Obama, pre-Zimmerman, pre-Weinstein, pre-“#MeToo”? I suspect it was definitely there, but far less socially up-front than it is today.

        Human trafficking expert Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco explained in USA Today a couple of days ago that Acosta’s deal with Epstein wasn’t out of line:

        The reality is that sex trafficking laws are applied differently across jurisdictions and circumstances, while sex trafficking crimes are notoriously difficult to prove in a court of law. Victims are often erroneously perceived as consenting participants and have credibility gaps exploited during trial. As a result, prosecutors typically use a variety of tactics to obtain convictions without litigation, including charge bargaining and plea bargaining.

        This is particularly true in the context of the times in which this occurred, which is a primary motivator of my caution. We have been warned by you and others compellingly about applying 2019 values to different eras and the ethical conundrums that are created by temporal displacement.

        I want to remind you that I am counseling caution, not arguing in defense of Acosta. As far as I know, leaving aside this one controversy, Acosta has been a good public servant and leader. I am also cautious because of two other significant reasons — the difference in time and the fact that the reporters bringing this up all have a bias against Acosta, either directly or by association, and seem disinclined to reveal facts that may work in mitigation of their implicit charges.

        Especially in a post like Labor, where the Secretary has to be beyond influences by corporate power, some one who failed this badly is a bad and unacceptable risk. I don’t need to know more. …

        Then you and I will not agree. Before condemning people, I always need to know as much as possible, especially when there should be a complete public record of the facts readily available, as in this case. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than condemn the reputation of a man who did nothing wrong, and sacrificing Acosta until this matter has been more fully examined is, I think, premature.

        Society will just have to suffer a little more pain before I’m ready to scapegoat Acosta. I think we find it entirely too easy to destroy people for some nebulous “benefit” to society, and I consider such benefits, if they actually exist, the product of severe and questionable ethical compromises. I won’t say they are never warranted, or even mostly unwarranted, but I don’t feel the need to “boldly go” sans careful review of the record.

  3. If we accept the argument that the head of every organization must be held to account then the AG at the time of the plea deal should have been forced to resign because he was the employee that fouled up. It was the AG that put Acosta in the position to foul up. Did Holder resign for Fast and Furious, did Obama? How many mayors or police commissioners have resigned or forced out when the city has to pay out millions for alleged police brutality? Did any politician resign when their sanctuary city policies resulted in the deaths of its citizens? If we hold leaders accountable every damn one should resign when they give license to illegal aliens to do as they please.

    I am with Glenn. I am extremely familiar with the concept of accountability without the authority to make decisions. Holding Acosta accountable now for events that happened over a decade ago suggests that Acosta’s career should have ended then and he should never been allowed to occupy any role as an officer of the court. This is the argument those trying to rewrite history are using. Jefferson had slaves( bad) therefore because he should never been trusted again we must forget every other thing he did. To be honest I am F’n confused over how you use

    The time to have said he was unqualified because of this case was during his confirmation. Not now. If he is forced to resign it will reinforce within the Democratic party and Republicans that it is appropriate to go after a weak targer in the opposing party to deflect the fact that they themselves were the beneficiaries in some manner of the real wrongdoer. Why the focus on Acosta and not on all those politicians that took his campaign donations willingly?

    I guess the decision on who to crucify is determined by who can effectively keep the focus off the most senior people like Bill Clinton.

    • Posted too soon

      I am F’n confused how you use the concept that a poor judgement at one point obviates all future decisions.

      If that is the case everyone should quit.

    • “If we accept the argument that the head of every organization must be held to account then the AG at the time of the plea deal should have been forced to resign because he was the employee that fouled up.” That would have been fine too. Rumsfeld offered his resignation after Abu Ghraib. He gets it.

      • Where is that line drawn? Why the Scy of Defense and not merely the General overseeing the theater of operations, the head of the prison, or the Commander in Chief. Rumsfeld made the offer likely knowing it would not be accepted. Making an offer is far different than tendering the resignation effective immediately with his sincere regrets that he failed to measure up to the leadership challenges of the position.
        I also don’t recall him making any similar demands on anyone in the chain.

          • Yes, Brg. Gen. Janice Karpinski took the fall but her immediate operational supervisor Maj. Gen. Wodeshwski (sp?) escaped all punishment. The buck stops where the higher ups make it stop.

              • Yes, someone has to pay but it has to be the right person or persons. Those immediately in charge are likely responsible unless they have just been put in charge and are doing all that can be done to fix the situation. As for those further up the chain, did they take action immediately? Did they not keep a close enough eye on what was happening? Was there a lax culture throughout their organisation? Choosing someone at random or choosing the person who is the easiest target is not ethical, the correct person or persons must be identified.

                • Except that in cases like Pearl Harbor, there is no “right person”—it’s everybody, nobody, or a symbolic somebody. Everybody is impossible, nobody is unacceptable. “Somebody” is the best of the imperfect alternatives.

                  The 2008 economic meltdown would have been far easier for the nation to accept if somebody, anybody, took responsibility for it.

      • Rumsfeld’s resignation is materially different to Acosta. Rumsfeld was Defense Secretary at the time of the Abu Ghraib disaster; his authority over the military was directly called into question. Resignation at that time was appropriate.

        Acosta is now (well . . . up until about 17 minutes ago) the Labor Secretary. His job is/was materially different to his roll as the US Attorney overseeing Epstein’s prosecution in 2008 – 2011. He may have issued . He made a terrible plea deal with a powerful, wealthy defendant who marshaled a dream team of lawyers. That defense team did its job. Holder, the AG at the time, could have canned the deal – for any number of reasons but chose not to take any action. If anyone should have resigned at that time, it would have been Holder AND Acosta for a spectacularly inexplicable deal.

        Now, more than 10 years later, Acosta’s competence is called into question for what happened back then. That seems too remote to attach any kind of resignationable (I made that word up – I like it!) liability in 2019. I get the “Buck Stops Here”. If my paralegal screws up something, it’s my fault for hiring an incompetence employee or not overseeing work product with sufficient attention to detail to prevent problems or harm.

        Chris, Glenn,and Michael R offer excellent points, which align with my thoughts. It is now moot, as Acosta has resigned.


    • I should have waited for Glen’s comment. He stated my position better than I did.

      As for the argument that sacrificing someone for the good of society, I say there is no way to evaluate the costs and benefits of such decisions and is therefore unconstitutional on its face because it amounts to a goverment taking in which the indivual scapegoat is not compensated for the benefits to society.

  4. I love how you can take a lesson in accountability from the Montreal Mob (a Sicilian family) but also have as one of your rationalizations – Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”. Of course there is no contradiction here but the juxtaposition is great.

    In terms of the present Acosta story, I think political accountability went out long ago. We barely saw it yesterday when the UK Ambassador got caught out and finally resigned. So many UK politicians calling for him to stay or that they would never have asked for or accepted the resignation. I wonder about Acosta’s elevation to DC for this administration was based on his performance in FL. Not based on the egregious deal per se but that he appears to be easily manipulated. Too unfair?

  5. Anyone in an important position pointing a finger at someone else when something goes awry never, ever looks good. Particularly a lawyer. Lawyers are supposed to be paid the big bucks because they are able to ferret out malfeasance and malpractice before it goes into effect. That’s their most important job. And the hardest part of the job. (And the part that drove me into retirement after just twenty years in private, transactional practice..

    This guy should have resigned if he screwed up, or kept his mouth shut if he didn’t and let the chips fall where they might. To mount a public defense (a private one would be fine if the facts are there to back him up) is just not good for anyone. Not for him, not for the administration, not for the justice system.

    “You fucked up, Alexander.”

  6. In my work as a prison program supervisor, I’ve read literally thousands of criminal histories. One thing I observed numerous times was the way that one criminal conviction (or sometimes just the arrest) would often lead to a cascade of other charges, as the criminal lost the ability to hide from his past misdeeds. Victims were emboldened to come out of the shadows, uncertain evidentiary connections firmed up, and criminal accomplices turned on their incarcerated associate in hopes of evading their own karma. Based on that, I prefer to give Mr. Acosta a bit more credit and believe that he hoped that first crack in Epstein’s armour would provide the opening for further prosecution. (As indeed it has, if rather belatedly. )

      • At the time, I thought the plea was ridiculously lenient, and still do. My preference for giving the prosecutor some benefit of the doubt comes from discussions I have had with prosecutors in my own state, frustrated that they couldn’t pursue charges against obviously guilty men.

        • Why is no one making the local DA the scapegoat. Kricher was on TV saying Accosta could have prosecuted but did not.

          The entire case involved Florida children in Florida. That makes it a state case. Accosta could have denied the request from Palm Beach PD for intervention and the issue would not even exist.

          It is for this reason alone I am standing up for Accosta. I really don’t understand why Kricher gets a pass on this fiasco.

          • Krischer pulled the typical Florida prosecutor shuffle by using a grand jury on Epstein. In Florida, if you want to go after someone who is innocent, you go to the grand jury. If you want a guilty person to get off, you go to the grand jury. Krischer was kept informed by the sheriff regarding the Epstein case without being told that it was Epstein and he was gung ho on the prosecution. Then, when he found out it was Epstein, he took it to the grand jury and all they returned was a charge of solicitation for prostitution. Makes me wonder how the evidence was presented to the grand jury.

  7. So I think you’re saying that Acosta should be fired because the Red Sox collapsed in 2011? Works for me. 😁

  8. I just listened to a well known media persona on the Larry O’ Conner show who was absolutely infuriated by the Epstein debacle when it first occurred. This persona hailed the work of the Palm Beach police force who built what should have been an airtight case against Epstein. She excoriated the States Attorney Barry Kicher who attempted to make a name for himself going after Rush Limbaugh for prescription drug abuse. She stated that Palm Beach PD did not disclose the accused name but simply stated to Kicher it was a well known person. She claimed that Kicher, a democrat, stated he would prosecute to the fullest UNTIL he learned it was Epstein. At that point he decided to present it to a grand jury instead of filing charges based on victim testimony. It was the grand jury that returned only one count if solicitation.

    The Palm Beach PD implored the feds (Acosta) to prosecute even though the charges were technically state offenses and all tbe victims then were local. Nonetheless, Acosta got the FBI to make the nexxus to federal charges.

    This is the rub. When the going got tough for him and his team because PI’s were scrutinizing the lives of the DOJ prosecuters he bailed on the victims.

    That is signature significance. It is a disqualifier for any leadership role in which human health, physical or mental, could be put at risk.

    With all that said, he wrote about this several years ago and thus would have been available to the President, the Cabinet recommtndation team and the Senate. Even though he failed to demonstrate leadership then, asking for his resignation now is too late. If he is unqualified now because of what was known at his confirmation but not then then it is obvious the Democrats are trying to avoid being rightfully tied to Epstein and the Republicans are simply offering him up as a low cost scalp. Both reasons are unethical.

    • I totally agree that offering Acosta up as a “low cost scalp” is both unethical and a superficial band-aid on a festering wound.

      Leaving aside the factual record, which I am convinced is incomplete, the displacement in time and the change in societal values between now and then has a big impact on my caution when it comes to demanding Acosta’s head. It mitigates against.

      Acosta definitely remembers it differently than your conclusion. It’s important that this be examined closely, because you’re right — baling on victims is signature significance, and I would argue it would make his current position untenable even now. Will he bail on victims as Labor Secretary? Can we trust him not to?

      That’s why I’m counseling caution. The full factual record should be available, and obtainable. Let’s get it, examine it, and then make our conclusions.

      I am struggling with Jack’s “Somebody must pay” idea. I know he’s been largely consistent on this, and his reasoning is not irrational or without merit. But my mind and soul has trouble with it, nonetheless.

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