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Trump's Labor nominee Acosta reportedly struck a deal with a billionaire in a sexual abuse case

A lawsuit questions why President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Labor Department, R. Alexander Acosta, did not pursue federal indictment of a billionaire accused of sexually abusing dozens of female minors, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Acosta, who then served as a U.S. attorney in Florida, reached a non-prosecutorial deal with money manager Jeffrey Epstein a decade ago, the newspaper reported. In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of solicitation of underage girls and served 13 months in jail, but critics have said he could have faced a tougher sentence federally, according to the Post.

Increased scrutiny has surrounded Acosta's handling of the case in advance of his Senate confirmation hearing, which began Wednesday.

In a 2011 letter, Acosta explained his decision: "The bottom line is this: Mr. Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire, served time in jail and is now a registered sex offender. He has been required to pay his victims restitution, though restitution clearly cannot compensate for the crime."

Trump, who called Epstein a "terrific guy" in 2002, is also on the witness list in the pending lawsuit, according to the Post.

CNBC has contacted the White House and Acosta's email at Florida International University College of Law for comment on this story.

Read the full Washington Post story here.