WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations about disgraced movie titan Harvey Weinstein, while former President Barack Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, were “disgusted.”
Weinstein faces multiple allegations of sexual abuse and harassment from some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Weinstein has been a major Democratic Party donor as he and his family has given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle. The explosive report by The New York Times last week and subsequent stories have forced congressional Democrats to give thousands of dollars in donations they received from Weinstein to charities.
The pressure was also on Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, and Obama to respond to the reports.
In a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, Clinton said she was “shocked and appalled” and that “the behaviour described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behaviour.
The Obamas released a statement saying: “Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. 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 behaviour less prevalent in the future.”
Later Tuesday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in.
“The news of Harvey Weinstein’s countless assaults on women and the clear efforts to intimidate his victims into silence are shocking. His despicable actions violate every standard of acceptable behaviour,” the California Democrat wrote. “Every man who disrespects and attacks women must be held accountable.”
None of the statements made mention of Weinstein’s donations to Democrats.
Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie told the Times in a report Tuesday that Weinstein had sexually harassed them. Separately, three women accused Weinstein of raping them in a story published online by The New Yorker, including the Italian actress Asia Argento and a woman who was an aspiring actress in college when she caught Weinstein’s eye. A representative for the mogul vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to the magazine.
The New York Times reported last week that Weinstein settled sexual harassment lawsuits with at least eight women. Weinstein was fired Sunday from the Weinstein Co.
Democrats and Clinton have been major beneficiaries of the Weinstein’s family largesse, with $200,000 to the party’s Senate campaign accounts, $23,200 to its House campaign arm senatorial and $46,350 to Hillary Clinton and to HILLPAC, a committee Clinton used to support other Democrats while senator. The figures include contributions attributed to Weinstein, first wife Eve Chilton and current spouse Georgina Chapman, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Weinstein and Chapman also contributed $10,000 to President Barack Obama.
Weinstein visited the White House during the Obama presidency and helped put on a film workshop in 2013, where then-first lady Michelle Obama described him as a “wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.”