The New York Times on Wednesday published a scathing piece outlining the “complicity machine” that allowed disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to protect himself against accusations of sexual misconduct for decades.
Several paragraphs into the report, there was an eyebrow-raising revelation about Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign:
He created stars through his movies, but he also acquired famous friends through his other activities, including in the Democratic politics that dominate Hollywood.
Chief among them were Bill and Hillary Clinton. Over the years, Mr. Weinstein provided them with campaign cash and Hollywood star power, inviting Mrs. Clinton to glittery premieres and offering to send her films. After Mr. Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he donated $10,000 to Mr. Clinton's legal defense fund. Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.
Mr. Weinstein's political activity — he provided consistent support for Mr. Obama as well — boosted his image as a man with friends in high places and close ties to the country's leading female politician. It is not clear if rumors of his record of sexual misconduct had ever reached them.
But two prominent women said they warned Mrs. Clinton's team. In 2016, Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, said she was troubled by the producer's visible presence during Mrs. Clinton's presidential run, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard stories, both directly and secondhand from other actresses, about disturbing encounters with him, she said. So in March last year, Ms. Dunham, a vocal Clinton supporter, said she warned the campaign.
Dunham reportedly told Clinton's deputy communications director, Kristina Schake, that Weinstein is a “rapist and this is going to come out at some point.” The actress said Schake seemed surprised by her remarks.
“I think it's a really bad idea for him to host fundraisers and be involved because it's an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault,” Dunham added.
But that wasn't the only time the Clinton campaign was warned of its cozy ties with Weinstein, according to the Times:
Earlier, during the 2008 presidential race, Tina Brown, the magazine editor, said she cautioned a member of Mrs. Clinton's inner circle about him. “I was hearing that Harvey's sleaziness with women had escalated since I left Talk in 2002 and she was unwise to be so closely associated with him,” Ms. Brown said in an email.
Dunham also said the Clinton campaign had failed to respond to her concerns about Weinstein up until weeks before Election Day.
However, multiple Clinton officials, including Schake, reportedly denied that “rape” was mentioned by Dunham when talking about Weinstein.