President Donald Trump has announced that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is resigning from his Cabinet position.
Acosta was facing increasing criticism over a 2008 sweetheart, non-prosecution deal he made with hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of abusing dozens of women and girls. The deal allowed Epstein to serve 13 months in a county jail on prostitution charges instead.
On Friday morning, the president said that Acosta believed that he had become a distraction.
In his resignation letter, Acosta wrote: "Your agenda, putting the American people first, must avoid any distractions. A Cabinet position is a temporary trust. I must set aside a part of me that wants to continue my service with the thousands of talented professionals at the Department of Labor."
When speaking to reporters, Trump said: "This was him, not me. Because I am with him. He is a tremendous talent. He is a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard. A great student."
"In so many ways, I just hate what he's saying now because we're going to miss him," the president added.
Acosta called for the media to cover more successes from the Department of Labor. "I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as a focus, rather than the incredible economy we have today."
Trump also downplayed his relationship with Epstein, saying that he was not "a big fan" of the financier and that they had a "falling out."
Last weekend, Epstein was arrested on new child sex-trafficking charges for allegations dating back to the early 2000's, following recent reporting from the Miami Herald. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty.
Acosta’s resignation appears to backslide from what Acosta had said at a press conference on Wednesday, when he defended his handling of the Epstein case and stated he had the confidence of both the president and Office of Management and Budget head Mick Mulvaney.
"My relationship with the President is outstanding," the labor secretary had said at the time.
Acosta's resignation will be effective next Friday.