Today’s News & Commentary — February 26, 2019
A federal judge ruled last week that Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he and other prosecutors devised a plea deal with Miami financier Jeffrey Epstein on charges of trafficking minors for sex, reported Bloomberg Law. The agreement allowed Epstein—a close associate of other powerful men accused of sex crimes including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert Kraft—to dodge federal charges related to an alleged sex ring he operated out of his Florida home, although he was sentenced to 13 months in prison on state charges. While some House Democrats have already called for Acosta to resign, labor union leaders are meeting today to decide whether the AFL-CIO should follow suit. Should Acosta step down, current Deputy Secretary Pat Pizzella, who began his career working with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to shield Northern Mariana sweatshops from federal labor and immigration laws, would become acting labor secretary.
A former staffer on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign alleged that he forcibly kissed her without her consent in a new lawsuit filed yesterday. In interviews and in her complaint, Alva Johnson said Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips at an August 2016 rally in Tampa, Florida. While over a dozen women have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault, including some that occurred in the workplace, Johnson is the only accuser to come forward since he became president and the only one to allege such behavior during the campaign. “The only thing I did was show up for work one day,” she told the Washington Post. Meanwhile, the Trump White House and campaign have come under fire for requiring employees to sign highly restrictive non-disclosure agreements, which may prevent other allegations from coming forward.
The New York Times profiled Sara Nelson, “a rising star of the labor movement and the most powerful flight attendant in America.” Nelson rose to prominence during the recent government shutdown for her leadership of the Association of Flight Attendants union, of which she is president. “Between you and me, that’s what ended the shutdown, you know,” Senator Bernie Sanders told Nelson when she was his guest to the State of the Union address. “When planes looked like they weren’t taking off.”
Domestic workers had a moment in the limelight on Sunday night, when Alfonso Cuarón’s movie Roma won three Academy Awards. The movie, which featured Mexican actor Yalitza Aparacio, a former schoolteacher, as a domestic worker in the film. Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance attended the awards ceremony as domestic workers celebrated Roma’s wins.