While the handling of the case arose during Acosta's confirmation hearings, it has come under fresh and intense scrutiny after the prosecutors in NY brought their charges on Monday, alleging Epstein abused dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, then molesting them at his homes in Florida and NY. According to the report, Epstein, 66, allegedly "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls" at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.
On Tuesday, two women who say they were Epstein victims years ago gave interviews on network television welcoming the new charges.
On Capitol Hill, a slew of Democrats called for Acosta's resignation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused him on Twitter of having "engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice".
The congresswoman insisted POTUS Trump was well aware of Alex Acosta's employment background and his part in Epstein's earlier plea deal that safeguarded the tycoon from federal charges and reduced a potential life sentence to just 18 months, 13 of which he nominally served.
Epstein pleaded not guilty on Monday to new child sex-trafficking charges.
However, Acosta acknowledged the new sex-crimes charges against Epstein could "more fully bring him to justice".More news: Washington Launches Probe Into France's Planned Technology Giants Tax
His comments came as a parade of Democratic presidential contenders and party leaders demanded that Mr Acosta, a former federal prosecutor in south Florida, resign or be fired over his role in a secret 2008 plea deal that let Mr Epstein avoid federal prosecution after allegations he molested teenage girls. "I feel very badly actually for Secretary Acosta because I've known him as being somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job", Trump told reporters at the White House.
"This was known by (President Trump) when he appointed him to the cabinet".
In February, US Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that Acosta's office had broken the law by not telling Epstein's victims of the lenient deal, while US Attorney Geoffrey Berman openly called for potential accusers to contact his office to help him "build his sex-trafficking case against Epstein".
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges.
"The same woman that accused me claimed to have had dinner with Bill Clinton and two underage girls on Jeffrey Epstein's island, claimed to have met Al Gore and Tipper Gore", said Dershowitz. If convicted, Epstein faces up to 45 years behind bars.
After once calling the disgraced financier a "terrific guy", Trump is now doubling back on his words, saying Tuesday that he's "not a fan".More news: Denise Nickerson Photos, News and Videos
That deal Epstein secretly cut allowed him to avoid federal prosecution for almost identical allegations.
It was not the first time that Trump has defended a Cabinet member casting a shadow on his administration.
Acosta was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 60-38 in April 2017, with all 51 Republicans joined by eight Democrats and one independent in approving his nomination. "There were all of these puzzle pieces that were out there, and when you put all of these puzzle pieces together, with the passage of time, there was this really damning story".
Michelle Licata, who was 16 when she said she had sexual encounters with Epstein, said news of his arrest lifted a huge burden. She filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice in 2008.
Epstein's case highlights the growing problem of sex trafficking in America.More news: Penguins center Matt Cullen retires after 21 seasons | AP sports