In a new interview, Lena Dunham says she warned Hillary Clinton’s campaign about Harvey Weinstein being a “rapist.”
The latest New York Times exposé into the sexual misconduct allegations against the disgraced mogul focused on the powerful relationships that had helped him maintain his reputation. Among those was Weinstein’s connection with Clinton and her husband, Bill: Weinstein often donated money to their campaigns and hosted fundraisers for them as well. But Dunham, a strong advocate for Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, claims to have told those within the campaign that Weinstein shouldn’t be involved.
“I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” the Girls star says she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. “I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”
In a statement provided to EW by Blair Berk and Ben Brafman on behalf of Weinstein, the producer denied any allegations of sexual assault: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred. Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”
According to Dunham, who doesn’t believe Clinton was ever notified, Schake was surprised by the information and vowed to relay the message to campaign manager Robby Mook. The actress also says she warned Adrienne Elrod, a Clinton spokeswoman in charge of working with celebrity campaigners. Elrod and Schake have both denied Dunham made any mention of rape, while Mook tells the Times he was never told of any such warning.
“We were shocked when we learned what he’d done,” Nick Merrill, Clinton’s communications director, said in a statement. “It’s despicable behavior, and the women that have come forward have shown enormous courage. As to claims about a warning, that’s something staff wouldn’t forget.” The statement added of Dunham specifically, “Only she can answer why she would tell them instead of those who could stop him.”
Clinton previously condemned Weinstein, who denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, in an October statement after the first accusations were reported: “I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.”