Alex Acosta, the United States Labour Secretary, is resigning amid criticism of his brokering of a plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein in a child sex case.
Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor, made the announcement from the White House lawn on Friday, as President Donald Trump stood by his side.
Acosta was the US Attorney in Miami in 2008, when he oversaw a non-prosecution deal against Epstein, which allowed the latter to serve 13 months in jail – with much of that spent on work release at his Palm Beach office.
The outgoing secretary had defended the secretly-negotiated plea deal in a news conference only two days ago.
Members of the Democratic Party had called for him to quit over his handling of the Epstein case.
Acosta told reporters: “I do not think it is right and fair… to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today”.
“It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that’s 12 years old.”
President Trump told reporters that the two had spoken on the phone earlier on Friday morning and that the resignation was Acosta’s decision.
“This was him not me,” President Trump said, adding that Mr Acosta was “a tremendous talent” who “went to Harvard” University.
President Trump had earlier this week told reporters that he felt badly for his Labour Secretary, but added that he did not know him personally before hiring him.
Patrick Pizzella, the current Labour Deputy Secretary, will become acting Secretary when Mr Acosta officially steps down in one week, President Trump announced.