Clinton, Obama break silence on Weinstein allegations

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Barack Obama, Harvey Weinstein and Hillary Clinton. (Photos: Mary Altaffer/AP, Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, Julio Cortez/AP)

Hillary Clinton broke her silence on Harvey Weinstein in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual assault and harassment, spanning three decades, by numerous women against the Oscar-winning movie mogul and Democratic donor.

“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein,” the former secretary of state said in a statement on Tuesday provided by her spokesman, Nick Merrill. “The behavior described by the women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.”

Both Clinton and former President Barack Obama had been criticized for not immediately joining other Democrats in publicly denouncing Weinstein, who has deep ties to both the Clintons and the Obamas.

On Tuesday afternoon, the former president and first lady released their own statement.

“Michelle and I have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein. Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status,” the statement said.  “We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories. And we all need to build a culture—including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect—so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future.”

Clinton did not mention the Weinstein scandal during an appearance at the University of California at Davis on Monday night — four days after the New York Times reported that Weinstein had reached settlements with at least eight women who accused him of sexual harassment between 1990 and 2015. The newspaper also included accounts from other women, including actress Ashley Judd, who said he asked her to watch him shower during a breakfast meeting in his hotel suite in the mid-1990s.

“HRC spoke for 90 mins last nite, didn’t mention Harvey Weinstein,” CNN’s Erin Burnett tweeted on Tuesday. “She won’t give women a ‘pass’ for not voting for her, but she gave him one.”

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Hillary Clinton and producer Harvey Weinstein attend the 2012 Time 100 Gala in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday morning, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s 2016 running mate, said he expected she would address the scandal.

“Any leader should condemn this,” Kaine said. “These allegations are low-life behavior.”

“Where is Hillary Clinton?” MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski wondered aloud.

Weinstein was fired from the film studio he co-founded, the Weinstein Co., on Sunday. The company’s board of directors said his termination was effective immediately, “in light of new information about misconduct” by Weinstein.

On Tuesday afternoon, the New Yorker magazine published another bombshell, also detailing Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and exposing far more serious claims of sexual assault and rape. The story includes allegations from three women, including actress and director Asia Argento, who say Weinstein raped them. The magazine also published an audio recording, captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015, in which Weinstein admits to groping an aspiring Filipino-Italian actress, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.

In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, a spokeswoman for Weinstein said “with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”

Weinstein, a longtime Clinton donor, hosted a fundraiser for her in New York City in June 2016, and the filmmaker offered strategic advice to the Clinton campaign during her primary battle against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The disgraced filmmaker has a similarly tight relationship with the Obamas.

During the 2012 presidential race, Weinstein held a fundraiser for Obama at his Connecticut home. The next year, Weinstein organized a student film symposium at the White House, where first lady Michelle Obama praised him as “a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.” Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, served as an intern with the Weinstein Co. this year. And Anita Dunn, a former top adviser to Barack Obama and ex-White House communications director, was reportedly among the list of public relations professionals and lawyers who offered Weinstein free damage-control advice days before the Times exposé was published.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle — nearly all of them to Democrats or Democratic causes.

Following the Times report, numerous Democratic lawmakers — including the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. — said they intended to donate Weinstein’s contributions to charities supporting women.

Weinstein donated $5,400 to Clinton during the 2016 campaign, per the Center for Responsive Politics, and more than $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee. The mogul donated $5,000 to Obama during his reelection campaign, and more than $30,000 to the DNC during that cycle.

A day after the revelations against Weinstein were published, the New York Times’ editorial board urged both Clinton and Obama to speak out.

“Mr. Weinstein’s prominent friends need to publicly assert that the behavior that has made him notorious cannot be tolerated. Not from anyone.”

President Trump — who last year faced a wave of allegations of sexual harassment from more than a dozen women who said they were inappropriately touched by him in separate incidents dating back to the early 1970s — has not yet denounced Weinstein.

On Saturday night, the president was asked about the allegations against the filmmaker.

“I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time,” Trump said. “I’m not at all surprised to see it.”

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