Chris Coons

Acosta out as Labor secretary as Epstein child sex scandal engulfs White House
Acosta will stay on through next week, Assistant Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will fill the post in an acting capacity after that

President Donald Trump and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta talk to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday after Acosta had announced his resignation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned Friday amid a churning scandal over a plea deal related to billionaire financier Jeffery Epstein and sex acts with minors.

President Donald Trump told reporters that Acosta had made the decision to resign as he departed for Wisconsin and Ohio, where the president will hold fundraisers and speak about a trade deal.

Acosta defends plea deal as Epstein child-sex scandal engulfs Trump
Labor secretary continues to play defense against criticism about accused child sex trafficker’s previous plea deal

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is interviewed during the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md. Wednesday, Acosta defended himself against criticism after he cut a generous plea deal with accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein while he was U.S. Attorney in South Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump struggles to shake a child-sex scandal involving a former friend, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defended a 2007 plea deal he offered billionaire financier and accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Acosta used an afternoon press conference to call alleged sex-trafficking by Epstein “despicable,” and said his actions deserve a “stiffer sentence” than the 13 months he served last decade. He called a new New York case against him that included charges filed Monday an “important opportunity to more fully bring Epstein to justice.”

Photos of the Week: Biden in DC, Trudeau at the Capitol and victory for the Bad News Babes
The week of June 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Democratic candidate Joe Biden speaks during the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress forum for presidential candidates at Trinity Washington University on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This week, Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors, the Canadian prime minister visited the Capitol Building to collect on his bet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Bad News Babes won the annual Congressional Softball Game.

All that and more below. Here’s the entire week in photos:

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist, Esper has also been an Army officer and congressional staffer

Sen. Jack Reed, left, speaks with Army Secretary Mark Esper before the start of an Armed Services hearing in March. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Esper to be acting Defense secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.

In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.

North Carolina’s Republican Party is having an identity crisis
Will the rebranding work in time for a Trump repeat victory in 2020?

Thom Tillis’ Senate re-election campaign captures the state of play in North Carolina, Curtis writes. The Republican is sticking with the president, while his office churns out releases showing a more bipartisan side. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — All eyes with be on North Carolina next year, when the Republican Party holds its 2020 convention in Charlotte to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. In truth, though, the state has been the center of attention for a while because of actions of party members — and the gaze has not been kind.

The North Carolina GOP realizes it has a problem, quite a few of them, and is busily trying to recover. But what’s the best path as the party tries to regain the trust of voters in a state that is a crucial battleground, one where independents are an important part of any winning coalition, and where millennials and Generation Z voters are fickle?

Photos of the Week: A moose and a bear enter the Capitol
The week of June 3 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Tourists stop to take photos in the Small Senate Rotunda after touring the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers returned from the Memorial Day recess to a shortened week, thanks to the departure of the delegation — led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

Back in Washington, the capital city marked the WWII victory at Normandy with a memorial at the war’s memorial on the National Mall.

Dingell, McCain honored for lifetime as defenders of Congress and democracy
Congressional Management Foundation honors six others for behind-the-scenes service

The late Arizona Sen. John McCain is the recipient (along with the late Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan) of lifetime achievement democracy awards from the Congressional Management Foundation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Management Foundation will honor the late Sen. John McCain and longtime Rep. John D. Dingell, two Capitol Hill legends who died within the past year, with lifetime achievement democracy awards next month.

The nonpartisan group, which has been around since 1977 and says it aims to make Congress more effective, also selected a bipartisan slate of six  lawmakers to honor for such behind-the-scenes efforts as constituent service.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.

Trump drags feet on climate treaty, and Republicans aren’t happy
As Kigali Amendment languishes, Sens. Kennedy, Carper point fingers at the administration

Hydrofluorocarbons — found in air conditioners — are worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. A plan to limit them has bipartisan support, but the Trump administration is standing in the way, Republican senators say. (iStock/Composite by Jason Mann)

It has the support of industry heavy-hitters, environmental advocates and a bipartisan cushion of votes in the Senate.

But the Kigali Amendment, a global treaty to limit hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gases found in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulation and foam — is stuck.

Trump: Barr will decide if Mueller testifies, Kerry should face charges
‘I’m the one who tempers him,’ president says of hawkish John Bolton

President Donald Trump arrives at the Capitol on March 14 as, from left, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., look on. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether or not special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will testify before Congress about his Russia election meddling report will be left to Attorney General William P. Barr, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

The president appeared to contradict himself just days after a Sunday tweet that included this statement: “Bob Mueller should not testify.” Trump wrote that day that the former FBI director testifying before Democrat-run House committees would amount to the opposition party trying to invent evidence of negative information about him.