During Barack Obama's presidency, Harvey Weinstein liked to boast, "I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?" In a lengthy story, the New York Times reports it was a connection used to "enhance his reputation as well as his power to intimidate." As was Weinstein's connection to Hillary Clinton, whom he assisted through fundraising, apparently despite warnings. Lena Dunham tells the Times she warned the Clinton campaign to distance itself from Weinstein in March 2016. "Harvey's a rapist and this is going to come out at some point," Dunham recalls telling Clinton's deputy communications director Kristina Schake, whom Dunham says promised to inform campaign manager Robby Mook. Dunham says she also expressed concerns to campaign spokesperson Adrienne Elrod but saw no response.
However, both Schake and Elrod say Dunham never mentioned rape. Despite former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown claiming she also warned Clinton's team about Weinstein as early as 2008, Mook adds he never heard any warning. "That's something staff wouldn't forget," Clinton's communications director, Nick Merrill, tells the Times. The report also describes how Weinstein used allies in Hollywood and the media to silence accusers, something he apparently tried to do even when he knew he would be the subject of an exposé. Noting that their accounts are backed up by text messages, the Times reports two women say Weinstein invited them to his hotel room at the Toronto Film Festival in September, made "massage requests, other unwelcome advances and offers of career help," then told them not to speak of the encounter. The full story is here. (Read more Harvey Weinstein stories.)