Trump announces R. Alexander Acosta as Labor secretary pick

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced R. Alexander Acosta as his new choice for Labor secretary, less than a day after Andy Puzder dropped out of consideration for the Cabinet post.

Acosta is dean of Florida International University College of Law and was a member of the National Labor Relations Board. He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and as a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, meaning the Senate previously confirmed him for jobs three times. Acosta, who attended Harvard Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when the latter was an appeals judge.

Acosta "has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed, did very, very well," Trump said at a White House news conference. "And so Alex, I've wished him the best. We just spoke. And he's going to be — I think he'll be a tremendous secretary of Labor."

Trump met with Acosta on Wednesday night, according to Bloomberg and Fox News.

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, withdrew Wednesday ahead of his confirmation hearing amid mounting bipartisan opposition. In a statement, Puzder did not specify why he dropped out but noted that he made the decision "after careful consideration and discussions with my family."

Acosta would enter a bitter confirmation process in which Democrats have fought against many of Trump's nominees and Trump has blamed the Senate's minority party for obstruction. Puzder's withdrawal also came as the White House deals with the aftermath of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's resignation.

If confirmed, Acosta would come into Trump's Cabinet with more government experience than many of Trump's other nominees, some of whom had long private sector careers. He does have ties to the business world — he serves as the chairman of U.S. Century Bank, a community bank in Florida.

United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R. Alexander Acosta in 2007.
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United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R. Alexander Acosta in 2007.

During his tenure as U.S. attorney in South Florida, he prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including the fraud conviction of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2009, Acosta's office prosecuted UBS for helping clients conceal assets from the IRS. The Swiss bank paid more than $750 million in fines as part of the tax avoidance scheme.

Acosta also took on a number of health-care fraud cases, one of which resulted in a reprimand from a Miami judge.

In 2009, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold issued a critical order accusing prosecutors of violating ethical guidelines in a high-profile narcotics trial and fined the federal government more than $600,000.

Acosta issued a statement at the time acknowledging that ''mistakes'' were made.


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