NEW DELHI/NEW YORK – Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes conviction was a “great victory” for women, U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday — without acknowledging the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct he has faced.
The disgraced Hollywood movie producer was found guilty on Monday of rape and sexual assault in a verdict hailed as a historic landmark by the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.
“From the standpoint of women, I think it was a great thing,” Trump said at a news conference in India.
“It was a great victory. And sends a very strong message, very, very strong message,” he added.
Weinstein, 67, was acquitted of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault by the New York court, charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
But he faces up to 29 years in prison for criminal sexual acts in the first degree and third-degree rape.
“He was a person I didn’t like,” Trump told reporters in New Delhi. “I just was not a fan of his. I knew him a little bit, not very well.”
Trump, 73, failed to mention that at least 16 women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Among them is prominent writer E. Jean Carroll, who alleges that Trump raped her in the changing room of a luxury New York department store in the mid-1990s.
She is suing him for defamation, claiming that his denials of the alleged attack, in which he said, “She’s not my type,” had damaged her reputation and career.
Summer Zervos, a one-time contestant on Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice,” has also sued him for defamation after he said she lied in claiming that he groped and forcibly kissed her.
Trump denies all the allegations and has never been prosecuted over them.
A month before his election victory in November 2016, a 10-year-old tape came to light in which the former reality TV star and real estate tycoon bragged about assaulting women.
Trump, who will lead the Republican party into elections in November as he seeks a second term as president, tried to score political points on Weinstein’s guilty verdicts.
“The people that liked him were the Democrats,” he said.
“Michelle Obama loved him. Hillary Clinton loved him. And he gave tremendous money to the Democrats.”
Weinstein, who produced multiple Oscar-winning films, was a generous donor to the Democratic Party in several U.S. presidential elections.
He was often photographed with the Clintons at parties and fundraising events over the years. He has also been snapped with Trump.
A former business associate of Weinstein’s testified that the fallen movie mogul used his connections to politicians, including the Clintons, to intimidate people.
Hillary Clinton defended her political ties to Weinstein on Tuesday.
“It’s true he contributed to every Democrat campaign,” she told journalists at the Berlin Film Festival.
“He contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign and John Kerry’s campaign and Al Gore’s campaign and everybody’s campaign.
“I don’t know whether that should shield anyone else from contributing to political campaigns, but it certainly should end the kind of behavior he was convicted for,” Clinton added.
She said Weinstein’s conviction showed it was “time for an accounting,” adding that “the jury’s verdict really speaks for itself.”
Lawyers and activists hailed the guilty verdicts as a turning point in the American criminal justice system for victims of sexual violence.
Weinstein was due to be imprisoned in New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail but spent Monday night in a Manhattan hospital after complaining of chest pains.
He will be sentenced on March 11.
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