Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial yet again Wednesday; this time, they complained that prosecutors brought up his friendship with Bill Clinton on the worst possible day — when President Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in earnest.
Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala told Judge James Burke that prosecutors’ showing a photo of Weinstein and Clinton together and repeatedly using the former president’s name was especially problematic given Clinton’s own impeachment stemming from his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Indeed, in her opening statement, prosecutor Meghan Hast showed a photo of Weinstein and Clinton together. She argued that Weinstein’s power — the fact that he was a person who was “smiling at cameras on red carpets all over the world, and rubbing elbows with people like the Clintons” — worked to intimidate his victims.
“Finally, in any day in the the history of the world, to show President Clinton in a sex-crimes case the day of opening statements — in only the third impeachment in history,” Aidala said after the jury left for the day. “The last impeachment trial had to do with that particular president.”
“President Clinton has nothing to do with this case at all,” Aidala said.
“Nobody mentioned that President Obama’s daughter interned with Mr. Weinstein,” Aidala argued later. “Nobody mentioned Mr. Weinstein’s relationship with the Cuomos or anyone else he knows … it was President Clinton’s photograph, and President Clinton’s name.”
“Not that it was a crime of sexual assault — it was a crime of lying under oath — but it still encompasses that whole time in history,” Aidala said in reference to Clinton. “On the day when the impeachment trial is going on, the jury is not allowed to read about this case, yet they can read about the impeachment, and the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.”
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi countered, “We have a young woman who will be testifying that, among the many things that Mr. Weinstein did to intimidate her, was to make sure she knew how close he was to the Clintons … even taking personal phone calls from Bill Clinton when he was with her.”
“She was a person from a dairy farm … who was intimidated by this hulking person, who was on the phone with Bill Clinton every other day,” Illuzzi said.
The first witness, businessman Lance Maerov, also said that Weinstein made a point of telling him that he was “connected to very powerful people” — including former presidents.
Maerov also said during his testimony that Weinstein was “heavyset.”
When Illuzzi asked Maerov if Weinstein was “very often slovenly dressed,” his lawyers objected. But the courtroom erupted with laughs.
Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.