February 16th, 2017
By Peter Baker
WASHINGTON — President Trump moved quickly on Thursday to replace his first choice for labor secretary, choosing R. Alexander Acosta, a Florida law school dean and former assistant attorney general, to become the only Hispanic in his cabinet.
Mr. Trump announced the nomination at the White House just a day after Andrew F. Puzder, a fast-food executive, dropped his bid to lead the Labor Department amid attacks on his business record and personal conduct that were eroding support among Republican senators and imperiling his confirmation.
The collapse of Mr. Puzder’s nomination was the latest blow for a president who demanded the resignation of his national security adviser earlier in the week. In naming a new labor nominee right away, Mr. Trump and his team hoped to put the sting of Mr. Puzder’s failure behind them and regain momentum with many of the president’s nominations still at stake.
In picking Mr. Acosta, the dean of Florida International University law school in Miami, Mr. Trump also addresses criticism that his cabinet was the first in many years without any Hispanics.
A Miami native, Mr. Acosta earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University and was a clerk for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. when he was still an appeals court judge. Mr. Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board and was an assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.
He went on to become the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, where his office prosecuted the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the terrorism suspect Jose Padilla, and founders of the Cali cartel. His official biography said his office also prosecuted several bank-related cases and targeted health care fraud.