Trump administration orders 'FBI probe into Harvey Weinstein'

The powerful Hollywood producer has been accused of sexual harassment and rape

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 12 October 2017 14:43 BST

The FBI has reportedly opened an investigation into the rape and criminal sexual acts allegations levied against Harvey Weinstein.

The Trump administration, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, allegedly asked the bureau to open the investigation over fears the Hollywood producer would remain in Europe after his rehabilitation and avoid prosecution like film director Roman Polanski who was accused of sex with a minor but fled to France, according to the Daily Mail.

It has not been confirmed as yet that the order came directly from Mr Sessions.

Mr Weinstein's lawyers have denied all allegations and he has supposedly decided to travel to Arizona for his treatment rather than abroad.

The FBI could not immediately be reached for comment, however, the reason for a federal investigation is because Mr Weinstein has been accused of crimes in multiple states as well as possibly France and the UK where he travelled often for Miramax business.

Within its purview, the bureau could investigate whether Mr Weinstein has committed any federal crimes and, should Mr Weinstein travel abroad and stay, prepare for extradition.

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Mr Weinstein has been accused of forcing an acting student to perform oral sex on him in 2004 in New York. The state has no statute of limitations on what it defines as "criminal sexual acts" or rape.

Up to 30 women have accused the Hollywood magnate of sexual misconduct including Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cara Delevigne who all accused him of sexual harassment. At least three women have accused him of rape. The Independent will not be naming them.

Ambra Battilana, an Italian model, actually recorded audio of an interaction with Mr Weinstein with the help of the NYPD in 2015.

The New York Police Department has confirmed they have opened an investigation into the allegations against the Oscar-winning producer as well.

There are those who have framed the investigation in a political light given Mr Weinstein's close ties and frequent campaign contributions to the Democratic party and prominent members like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, and Elizabeth Warren.

Ms Clinton issued a statement that said: "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."

He contributed on several occasions to both Ms Clinton's and husband President Bill Clinton's various campaigns from 1995 to 2016 according to the nonpartisan Center For Responsive Politics.

The Weinstein family has given more $1.4m (£1.07m) in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle and wielded influence among film elite, hosting several fundraisers for the Clintons and other notable Democratic candidates and the national party committee.

Democratic National Committee (DNC), the party's Senate and House campaign committees (DCCC), and prominent figures like Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, and Al Franken among others have all said they will be donating Mr Weinstein's political contributions received by their campaigns to charities helping women.

Mr Weinstein's behaviour was apparently an open secret among women in the film industry but only surfaced to the general public when two reports surfaced late last week.

The New York Times reported on former employees and actresses in his films allegedly being harassed in business meetings in Mr Weinstein's hotel rooms and being paid off for their silence. Then, a bombshell New Yorker report contained further allegations by actresses Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette. An Italian actress also accused him of sexually assaulting her.

In anticipation of the reports, Mr Weinstein had assembled a high profile legal team and soon issued a statement that began: "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."

The board of Mr Weinstein's company has since fired him in light of the allegations.

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