Lena Dunham claims that she warned Hillary Clinton’s communications director about Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour, the New York Times reported in an expose that includes new details about the lengths Weinstein went to coverup his alleged behaviour. The details led the powerful Hollywood talent agency C.A.A. to apologize for its role in the scandal.
Dunham told the Times that when she worked with the Clinton presidential campaign last year, she tried to warn them about rape allegations against the mogul. Dunham said she also told Clinton spokeswoman Adrienne Elrod about Weinstein.
“I just want to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist, and this is going to come out at some point,” Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. “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.”
Magazine editor Tina Brown also said she cautioned the Clinton campaign about Weinstein.
Representatives for Dunham didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Clinton’s communications director Nick Merrill told the paper that “only (Dunham) can answer why she would tell them instead of those who could stop him.”
Weinstein was a significant contributor to Democratic candidates and helped fundraise for Clinton.
Weinstein attorneys Blair Berk and Ben Brafman reiterated Weinstein’s denials in a statement Wednesday.
“Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behaviour or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct,” said the attorneys. “There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred. Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behaviour, he remains deeply apologetic.”
A Weinstein spokesperson also said the producer also contributed to Republican candidates, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and said Weinstein had never had any discussions with any politicians about his personal conduct.
The Times report published online Tuesday night was followed Wednesday with a lawsuit filed by six women in federal court in New York against Weinstein, claiming his actions to cover up assaults amounted to civil racketeering. The lawsuit, which seeks to represent a class of “dozens, if not hundreds” of women who say they were assaulted by Weinstein, claims that a coalition of companies and people became part of the growing “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” and that they worked with Weinstein to conceal his widespread sexual harassment and assaults.
Weinstein is currently under investigation for sexual assault in four cities. He has apologized for his behaviour with women but denied having non-consensual sex.
The latest New York Times report, titled “Weinstein’s Complicity Machine,” further illustrated how Weinstein leveraged his power and connections to keep his alleged crimes hidden, and detailed how those who enabled Weinstein allowed his actions to go unchecked.
The Times reported that at least eight C.A.A. agents were aware of Weinstein’s pattern of harassment. Gwyneth Paltrow, who is among the dozens of actresses who earlier came forward to claim sexual harassment by Weinstein, said she told her own C.A.A. agent, Rick Kurtzman, about being harassed by Weinstein. (Paltrow continued to star in several movies produced by Weinstein.)
Canadian actress Mia Kirshner also said C.A.A. set up a meeting with Weinstein in New York to discuss a film. But his actual purpose was to exchange sex for career opportunity, the Times reported.
C.A.A. declined to discuss individual cases but responded with a broad apology.
“We want to make clear to clients and colleagues that even one of our clients being harassed over the company’s 42 years is one too many,” the agency said in a statement. “We are here to serve, fight for, and protect our clients. We apologize to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves, as individuals and as a company.”