Thursday, July 11th, 2019
Are Lieber Secretary. Alex Acosta stands by plea agreement he made with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in our part. We were trying to do the right thing for these victims house. He defending himself as pressure builds for him to resign. I'm Noel Well King here with Rachel Martin and this is up I from N._p._R.. News also why is one of the biggest teachers unions suing the Department of Education. The Department of Education just cannot seem to get this right. We'll bring you exclusive N._p._R.. We are reporting on a new lawsuit against the student loan. Forgiveness program and Britain warns that Iranian vessels tried to block British commercial oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz what now for the increasingly tense relations between Iran the U._S. and its allies. Stay with us. We'll give give you the news you need to start your day support for up first and the following message come from honest striving to make better for you products when you choose honest beverage money goes to fair trade certified suppliers to help support report their communities visit honesty dot com slash podcast to learn more support also comes from simplisafe home security simplisafe protect your whole home every window room and door with a round the clock professional monitoring and no long term contracts get free shipping on your order at simplisafe dot com slash up first secretary of labor. Alex Acosta is defending plea deal that he oversaw nearly a dozen years ago as a U._S.. Attorney in Florida now yeah that deal allowed the financier Jeffrey Epstein to avoid federal charges for sexually abusing young girls in a press conference yesterday. Acosta said his office handled the case right. I know that in two thousand nineteen looking back on two thousand eight things may look different but this was the judgment of prosecutors with dozens of years of experience people started looking at that plea deal again when prosecutors in New York Charge Epstein with sex trafficking last weekend we've. We've got N._P._R.'s lead political editor Domenico Montanaro with us this morning High Dominica Good Morning Rachel so the Secretary of Labor Alex Kosta spoke for almost an hour yesterday. What else did he say is that it was difficult? Case in Epstein was going to be essentially let off the hook ah if he didn't intervene so let's listen to part of his justification. There is a value to a short guilty plea because letting him walk letting what the State Attorney was ready to do. Go forward forward would have been absolutely off now. Acosta said that he wasn't going to roll the dice on not getting a conviction he wanted Epstein to go to jail he wanted to register as a sex offender even though the sentence being very light and the man who was that Palm Beach County State Attorney at the time is now saying that a cost his recollection was completely wrong that he had an indictment prepared but was abandoned after secret negotiations between epsteins lawyers and Acosta but it gets more tangled because in the big Miami Herald store all this last year you might remember the police involved at the time who were going after Epstein actually blamed that same Palm Beach County State Attorney for pressuring them to downgrade the charges or drop the case altogether a tangled Web <hes> <hes> to be sure so let's talk about the political implications of this. I mean we know there's been a lot of pressure from Democrats pointing to Acosta and saying you gotta quit <hes> putting pressure on the president to fire him but the Labor secretary has also had some MHM critics on the right well yeah I mean there haven't been many on capitol. Hill all say that they've been mostly defending him in sticking by the president's line but there have been reports that the president's chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was unhappy with the cost for not being more aggressive in dismantling some of these Obama obama-era workplace regulations and a cost of dismissed that tension though yesterday saying that Mulvaney told them to quote say that any talk of problems between them is quote B._S.. So this is such a horrible story a really when you sit and you read the details all of it and <hes> it makes you wonder if if there's any political cost for for the President I mean when they're such universal a disgust with these allegations does the president bear political cost of he keeps a cost around. Well look you know he's the producer and chief and you know there's lots of reporting that he wanted a cost to actually do this press conference to show that you know that he could handle this <hes> he didn't apologize to victims and trump doesn't like people who apologize Vice President Mike Pence gave a kind of tepid statement afterwards yesterday saying that he serves at the pleasure of the president has all the cabinet members and we're in this odd situation where president trump himself was friends with Jeffrey Epstein some years ago before he says they had a falling out and it's notable that former president Bill Clinton did as well so we'll see where any of this winds up going or if any of that sticks N._p._R.'s Domenico Montanaro thank you you're welcome okay the British navy a saying that it was able to stop and Iranian paramilitary vessels from blocking the passage of a British commercial ship in the Strait of Hormuz. Yeah this is notable because there has been a lot going on in the Strait of Hormuz recently including awesome attacks on oil tankers. It's a tense time between Iran and other world powers especially the United States president trump pulled the U._s. out of the Iran nuclear agreement last year and he recently imposed new sanctions on Iran right. So what does this latest alleged move by Iran. I mean for all of that. We've got Washington Post reporter Aaron Cunningham on the line with us from Dubai Aaron. Thanks for being with us. I think so much. What more can you tell us about what happened? Though it's unclear exactly what happened but what the British government is saying is that these Iranian vessels there were three of them they approached the tanker the British heritage that had been in the Persian Gulf and was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz and attempted to stop it now the tanker was being escorted by a British navy ship and so they were able to that ship that escort was was able to signal to the Iranians that that they should turn away and and they did and it was able. To pass safely after that <hes> from from the U._S. side you know some U._S.. Officials were saying that the Iranians had attempted to seize the vessel but it's just not clear that that's what happened. <hes> it may have been sort of they wanted to <hes> you know make a point harass the ship <hes> in the waterway and so that's where we stand right now and this is not happening in a vacuum obviously as Noel alluded to it some level this is all about the Iran nuclear deal and Iran continuing continuing to agitate the United States which pull out of the deal but also trying to pressure the current signatories to the deal to live up to their end of the bargain and give Iran the financial benefits that thinks it deserves so how how is this likely I mean this was a British tanker. How is it likely to change Britain's Calculus on Iran and the nuclear deal? I'm not entirely sure that it will and with you know with the United Kingdom they've been sort of in the middle between <hes> the hardline U._S. position and sort of the softer European position that you know has been emphasizing diplomacy and wants to sort of you know keep keep Iran in the fray and and within the deal now the U._K.. Is is committed to the nuclear agreement and it has said that on multiple occasions but it's also been a bit more forceful in condemning what it says are sort of malign Iranian activities in the Persian Gulf in in the Strait of Hormuz so I think that you'll see sort of a harder harder line from the U._k.. After this but it's not clear that they will support you know extra sanctions for example or if they will you know skill their own commitments under the nuclear deal as well Aaron Cunningham from the Washington Post <hes>. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it thank you what are the biggest teachers unions in. This country is suing the U._S.. Department of Education that's right N._p._R.. Obtained The complaint exclusively and it alleges that a student loan forgiveness program is in such shambles that it's actually illegal now. This program is supposed to forgive student loans for people who've worked ten years in public service jobs but for a lot of people that is not what's happening. N._P._R.'s Chris Arnold has been covering this story uncovered it in the first place and he's with us now. Hey Chris Rachel so just tell us more about this suit who's filing it and why well the American Federation of Teachers Filing it but this goes far beyond teachers this involves the Public Service Loan forgiveness program which was created by Congress a decade ago and it was created to encourage public service service so government and nonprofit work. That's police officers Nurses Peace Corps volunteers. All kinds of jobs government made a promise basically if you work for ten years in public service and you make ten years alone payments the government will forgive the rest of your federal student loans which is like a great France the the problem is that only one percent of people who do this track. They do it for ten years to make these payments that go to get approved. Only one percent get approved. Everybody's getting reject us so people who took certain jobs with the entire intention attention of of getting their student debt race after ten years they are not getting the help they thought they would exactly and we talked to Christopher Peterson as a former top attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He says if you could get all of these people who are getting rejected acted into one place basically you'd have football stadiums full of nurses firefighters teachers law enforcement officers that are seeking to have their debts forgiven having made all of these is payments under the impression that they were on track and are now. They're being turned away in droves so you know that's pretty bad and it's sparking a lot of outcry a bunch of lawsuits well. What's the justification I mean? Why aren't those loans getting forgiven well? What one big problem is that to get loan? Forgiveness things get a little complicated and you have to be in the right type of federal loan and the right type of repayment plan and people are saying that will look. I called my Loan Servicing Company. I call it eight hundred number on my statement and I got bad. What information they never told me I needed to change into this kind of loan and then ten years later they find out oops? You Know Oh sorry nothing we can do now. We talked to Debbie Baker. WHO's a music teacher in Tulsa Oklahoma? This happened to her. She says she got stuck with seventy six thousand thousand dollars that she thought was about to be forgiven and when this hit I just I didn't know whether to cry. Throw up. Get Mad. I just didn't know what to do. I honestly did not think the federal government would do this to someone so what happens <unk> to someone like Debbie I mean is this lawsuit now going to make a difference for her and her debt well. She's a plaintiff so quite possibly who knows but for everybody else the lawsuits trying to get the department to come up with an appeals process that could work for lots and lots of people <hes> we we should say that the Department of Education recently implemented a dramatic fix to a different program which which we reported on the teach grant program and that now is returning grant money to thousands of people who had grants taken away on fairly so fixes are possible is the Department of Education anything about this so far. The lawsuits just being filed this morning that they don't have a comment yet all right N._p._R.'s Chris Arnold for us this morning on this lawsuit against the Department of Education Chris. Thanks we appreciate it. You're welcome and that's a first for this Thursday July eleventh. I'm Rachel Martin and I'm Noel King Up. I will be back tomorrow but in the meantime you should check out the indicator from planet money. It's N._p._R.'s Daily podcast about that money work in human behavior you should it's good on the latest episode. Deutsche Bank is on the ropes. The bank is laying off thousands of workers and selling off parts to survive so how did a bank that used to be one of the top dogs in the industry. Go South so fast <music>. The world is complicated but knowing the pass can help us understand it so much better. That's where we come. I'm in I'm Rhonda. I'm writing at Bluey and we're the host of through line. N._P._R.'s history podcast every week. We'll dig into forgotten stories from the moments that shaped our world through line from N._p._R.. Listen and subscribe now this.