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Jeffrey Epstein accuser, migrant kids allege abuse and Megan Rapinoe: The Morning Rundown

This moment is about "so much more than soccer," said Rapinoe, the U.S. women's national soccer team co-captain.
Image: A spray-painted sign honors the four-time World Cup winning U.S. women's soccer team, one day ahead of a ticker-tape parade and City Hall ceremony honoring their latest achievement,
A spray-painted sign honors the four-time World Cup winning U.S. women's soccer team ahead of a ticker-tape parade in New York City on Wednesday. Kathy Willens / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Migrant children allege sexual assault by border agents, a woman says that financier Jeffrey Epstein raped her when she was 15, and Megan Rapinoe on why she believes the U.S. women's World Cup win has resonated with so many Americans.

Here's what we're watching today.

Migrant children say their complaints about conditions were met with retaliation

A 15-year-old girl from Honduras described being molested in front of laughing border agents. A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy said he and others had mats taken away and were forced to sleep on concrete for complaining about the taste of food and water.

These examples show how the poor treatment of migrant children at the hands of U.S. border agents in recent months extends beyond Texas.

In Arizona, dozens of children described unsanitary and crowded conditions similar to those in Texas facilities, but also abuse and other misconduct by Customs and Border Protection agents, according to accounts collected by government case managers and obtained by NBC News.

New Jeffrey Epstein accuser: He raped me when I was 15

Jennifer Araoz says she was 14 years old when a young woman approached her outside her New York City high school in the fall of 2001. That casual encounter led her to Jeffrey Epstein's townhouse, where after a few visits, Araoz said, she was being paid $300 to perform half-naked massages on Epstein.

A year after their first meeting, Araoz said Epstein turned violent. "He raped me, forcefully raped me," Araoz told NBC News in an exclusive interview.

"He knew exactly what he was doing."

Labor Secretary under fire over 'sweetheart' Epstein plea deal

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is facing an onslaught of criticism for his role in securing a non-prosecution agreement for Epstein more than a decade ago.

A flood of top Democrats have demanded Acosta resign for helping to orchestrate what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed as a "sweetheart deal."

Acosta defended his handling of the notorious case, saying he was "pleased" that federal prosecutors in New York charged the financier Monday with sex trafficking crimes "based on new evidence."

President Donald Trump defended his embattled labor secretary and disavowed Epstein, a man he once called a "terrific guy," on Tuesday.

“I had a falling out with him a long time ago,” Trump told reporters at the White House about his relationship with Epstein. “I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years.”

Meanwhile, human trafficking lawyers and victims' advocates warn that under Acosta, the Labor Department — one of the federal agencies tasked with preventing human trafficking — has had a "troubling" lack of resources for victims.

Analysis: As McConnell's family shows, the legacy of slavery persists in American lives

When Mitch McConnell confirmed Tuesday that his ancestors had owned slaves, he didn't say whether he was surprised to learn about it from an NBC News report the day before.

But historians, economists and other scholars say that few Americans should be surprised to find a personal connection — direct or indirect — to the exploitation of slaves.

The slave trade, they say, remains as fundamental to individual and national prosperity as electricity to the Internet.

"Race is at the root of our country and so many of our family’s financial foundations,” said Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, a coordinator at the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality and the Common Good.

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  • Rip Torn, the hell-raising Texas-born actor, died Tuesday. He was 88.

THINK about it

Trump's spat with the U.K. ambassador shows he still doesn't understand diplomacy, Brett Bruen, former director of global engagement in the Obama White House, writes in an opinion piece.

Science + Tech = MACH

NASA's mission to a rare metal asteroid could spark a space mining boom.


Patience: Some people are born with a knack for it, but experts say the rest of us can learn to do better. Here's how.

Quote of the day

"If not me, who? And if not now, when?"

— Ross Perot, the billionaire business magnate and two-time third-party presidential candidate. He died Tuesday at 89.

One inspiring thing

The U.S. women's national soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe believes her team's World Cup victory is about "so much more than soccer at this point."

Rapinoe told NBC News on Tuesday that she believes they won over so many new fans because "a lot of people see themselves in us" she said. "I feel like we've brought every slice of America to the party."

And the team's push for equal pay with their male counterparts is gaining traction.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced a bill Tuesday to withhold federal dollars for the men's World Cup unless the U.S. women's national soccer team receives pay equity.

"They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly," Manchin said.

In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday, Rapinoe expressed optimism that the team has won the argument, if not the fight, on the issue.

The world championship team will be feted with a ticker-tape parade down New York City's Canyon of Heroes today starting at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Thanks, Petra