Remarks by President Trump Regarding Secretary Acosta and Jeffrey Epstein
White House South Lawn Washington D.C. July 12 9:34 A.M. EDT
Q How do you think your Labor Secretary did?
THE PRESIDENT: I think he was a great Labor Secretary, not a good Labor Secretary. He's done a fantastic job. He's a friend of everybody in the administration. And I got a call this morning, early, from Alex. And I think he did a very good job yesterday. Under a lot of pressure, he did a fantastic job and he explained it. He made a deal that people were happy with, and then, 12 years later, they're not happy with it. You'll have to figure all of that out.
But the fact is, he has been a fantastic Secretary of Labor. And Alex called me this morning and he wanted to see me. And I actually said, "Well, we have the press right out here, so perhaps you just want to say it to the press."
But I just want to let you know, this was him, not me, because I'm with him. He was a - he's a tremendous talent. He's a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard. A great student. And, in so many ways, I just hate what he's saying now because we're going to miss him.
But, please, Alex.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Thank you, Mr. President. Over the last week, I've seen a lot of coverage of the Department of Labor, and what I have not seen is the incredible job creation that we've seen in this economy - more than 5 million jobs. I haven't seen that workplace injuries are down, bucking a three-year trend; workplace fatalities are down, bucking a three-year trend; that we had the safest year ever in mining, the lowest number of fatalities ever in mining.
I have seen coverage of this case that is over 12 years old, that had input and vetting at multiple levels of the Department of Justice. And as I look forward, I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus, rather than the incredible economy that we have today.
And so I called the President this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside. You know, Cabinet positions are temporary trusts. It would selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 years old, rather than about the amazing economy we have right now.
And so I submitted my resignation to the President -effective seven days from today, effective one week from today - earlier this morning.
Q If the Secretary explained himself, as you say he did two days ago, why the need for him to resign?
THE PRESIDENT: There's no need at all, as far as I'm concerned. I would have - I watched Alex yesterday. I thought Alex did a great job. And, you know, you could always second guess people, and you could say it should have been tougher. They do it with me all the time. I make a great deal with anybody, and then they say - like, the Democrats - "Oh, it could have been better."
I got $1.2 billion settlement fined from a company, from ZTE. And the next day - and everybody couldn't believe it. The next day, the Democrats said, "Oh, he should have gotten more." So you can always be second guessed. That's what people do.
I just want to tell you: This is a person that I've gotten to know. There hasn't been an ounce of controversy at the Department of Labor until this came up. And he's doing this not for himself; he's doing this for the administration.
And, Alex, I think you'll agree. I said, "You don't have to do this." He doesn't have to do this.
Q Why would you - why would you accept his resignation?
Q But you accepted the resignation. You accepted the - why did you accept the resignation if he hasn't done anything wrong?
THE PRESIDENT: I do, and we have - we have - as everybody knows, we have Pat Pizzella, who right now is a deputy, and he'll be Acting for a period of time. I think you know Pat. He's a good man, highly recommended by Alex. But Pat is going to be Acting, and we've already informed him.
Q Why did you have a falling out with Jeffrey Epstein? Why did you have a falling out with Jeffrey Epstein? And did you ban him from Mar-a-Lago?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And I did have a falling out a long time ago. The reason doesn't make any difference, frankly. But I haven't spoken to him in probably 15 years or more. I wasn't a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein, that I can tell you. And now, if you look, the remnants hurt this man. And I hate to see it happen.
I will say this, and I say it again and I say it loud and clear: Alex Acosta was a great Secretary of Labor. What he's done with plans and - you see the plans coming one after another. You're just about done with the 401(k) and -
SECRETARY ACOSTA: That's correct.
THE PRESIDENT: - and that happened. Things that nobody would even think of. So it's very sad. But at the same time, he wants the focus to be on accomplishments, not on what you're talking about.
Q But do you believe - do you believe, Mr. President, that Epstein has become and Mr. Acosta has become a distraction to the Labor Department?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Alex believed that. I'm willing to live with anything, John. I think you know me. I've lived through things that you wouldn't believe.
Alex felt that way. And he also felt - we're so good; we're doing so well. The economy - the stock market just hit the highest point yesterday in the history of our country. Our unemployment numbers are the best they've ever been. If you look at specifically certain groups - African American, Asian, Hispanic - the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country.
You know, there are so many good things, and he didn't want to distract from that. And I understand that, 100 percent.
Q Did Paul Ryan prevent you from making any bad decisions?
THE PRESIDENT: For what?
Q Did Paul Ryan prevent you from making any bad decisions?
THE PRESIDENT: So Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn't a leader. When the people in Freedom and great congressmen wanted to go after the Dems for things that they did very badly, he wouldn't give subpoenas, whereas Nancy Pelosi hands them out like they're cookies.
Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as Speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me because we got taxes cut. I got regulation cuts. I did that mostly without him.
But for Paul Ryan to be complaining is pretty amazing. I remember a day in Wisconsin - a state that I won - where I stood up and made a speech, and then I introduced him and they booed him off the stage - 10,000 people.
So for him to be going out and opening his mouth is pretty incredible. But maybe he gets paid for that. Who knows? Maybe he gets paid for that.
Q Mr. President, the raids - can you - Mr. President, are you putting law enforcement at risk by having these raids? Is the public at risk now that everyone knows that the raids are coming?
THE PRESIDENT: So people come into our country illegally. We're taking them out legally. It's very simple. It's not something I like doing, but people have come into our country illegally.
We're focused on criminals. We're focused on - if you look at MS-13 - but when people come into our country, we take those people out and we take them out very legally. They all have papers. And it's a process. And I have an obligation to do it. They came in illegally; they go out legally.
What the Democrats should be doing now is they should be changing the loopholes. They should be changing asylum. I've been talking to that - to you about this for a long time. They should be changing asylum. There's so many things.
Now, let me - let me give you the good news: Mexico has done an outstanding job so far. If you look at the border, it's down now 30 percent, and that's only one week inclusive where they've gotten it together.
The June numbers just came out. It's down. It looks like it's going to end up being a little bit above 30 percent down. It's going to be down more and more. They have 21,000 - and I say "21,000" - Mexican soldiers on the borders - both their southern border and our southern border.
And we really have it in control. The problem is - we have a big problem. The laws are so bad. The Democrats have to help us fix the immigration laws. But even with that, because of the job that Mexico is doing - and, yes, they maybe did it because of tariffs, but they're doing a great job and I appreciate it.