In a New York Times exposé, Paltrow claims Weinstein lied about having sex with her when trying to coerce other women

By Mike Miller
December 06, 2017 at 07:56 AM EST

Harvey Weinstein’s
sexual predations went unimpeded for decades thanks to a complex and powerful “complicity machine” he built to protect himself, according to an exposé by The New York Times.

In a wide-ranging report capping off two months of reporting on the embattled mogul, the paper outlined a web of coverups, complicity and intimidation tactics orchestrated by him and associates to silence those who might accuse him of sexual assault or harassment. Weinstein, says the report, weaponized friendships with power players in journalism, Hollywood and politics.

Weinstein’s network included Hillary Clinton, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of American Media David Pecker and Creative Artists Agency managing director Bryan Lourd, among others.

On Tuesday, Weinstein’s attorneys Blair Berk and Ben Brafman disputed claims of inappropriate advances in the report, saying Weinstein’s recollections differed from those of his accusers.

Speaking about his connections was a frequent occurrence for Weinstein, and, according to the report, a favorite refrain for the producer and frequent Democratic fund-raiser during the Obama years was, the outlet says, “I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?”

In September, Weinstein was reportedly working on a television documentary on Clinton, for whom he had fundraised and campaigned. The N.Y.T. alleges that Clinton’s “feminist credentials” helped improve his image by proxy. The newspaper reported that Lena Dunham warned Clinton’s aides about his “treatment of women,” although Dunham believed her message never reached the candidate.

Dunham says she told the Clinton campaign’s deputy communications director Kristina Schake that Weinstein was a “rapist” and that it was a “really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers” in 2016. Dunham says Schake seemed shocked and promised to relay the message to Robby Mook, the campaign manager.

Schake, through Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, denied to the N.Y.T. that Dunham mentioned rape, and Mook told the outlet that no one mentioned anything inappropriate about Weinstein to him. Nick Merrill, the campaign’s communications director, said in a statement to the N.Y.T.: “We were shocked when we learned what he’d done. 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.” Referring to Dunham, the statement added, “Only she can answer why she would tell them instead of those who could stop him.”

A spokesman for Weinstein told PEOPLE the mogul contributed to both sides of the political divide and did not discuss personal matters.

“Mr. Weinstein has been a significant contributor to both Republicans ([Rudy] Giuliani and [George] Pataki) as well as Democrats (Clintons, Obama), Mr. Weinstein has never had any discussion with any politician regarding claims of personal conduct. Although there were plans for a documentary at some point with Secretary Clinton, the project was never realized.”

The article also notes that in the same month, Bezos reached out to Weinstein for advice when the Wall Street Journal was reporting on “turmoil” at Amazon Studios. Bezos declined to comment to the N.Y.T.

In the media world, Weinstein allegedly counted on allies like Pecker, whose American Media Inc. owns The Enquirer, for favorable coverage. According to the N.Y.T., Weinstein was known in the tabloid industry as “an untouchable ‘F.O.P.,’ or ‘friend of Pecker.’ ”

PEOPLE reached out to a representative for Pecker but did not immediately receive a response.

According to the N.Y.T., Weinstein “stormed” into the office of Lourd, one of Hollywood’s most powerful agents, in mid-September to complain about an article that Ronan Farrow, a C.A.A. client, was writing about Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct for The New Yorker. “This guy won’t meet right now,” Lourd allegedly wrote to Weinstein of Farrow. “He did say he will call you soon. I think he is absolutely pursuing the story.” Lourd declined to comment to the N.Y.T., citing client confidentiality.

A spokesman for Weinstein said the producer’s dealings with Bezos and Lourd “were always professional and appropriate, and never at any time involved any discussions of allegations now being made” against him. The spokesman added on the mogul’s behalf, “Mr. Bezos is a great man of integrity.”

Executives at Weinstein’s film companies who learned of allegations rarely spoke out for fear of retribution, according to the N.Y.T. Low level employees who were allegedly pulled into these cases revealed that they compiled “bibles” for dealing with Weinstein. These guides included “hints on facilitating encounters with women” and requirements for procuring “his penile injections for erectile dysfunction.”

The article also addresses claims by several actresses, including Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ashley Judd, who have all spoken out about inappropriate encounters with Weinstein.

Paltrow previously revealed that she rebuffed Weinstein after he propositioned her for sex while working on his film Emma, but according to the N.Y.T., Weinstein “repeatedly boasted” of sleeping with Paltrow for years to other actresses. Complying with his sexual advances was “the best thing you can do for your career now” he allegedly told one actress in 2000, before using Paltrow as an example.

The actress has started to connect with some of those women in recent weeks, according to the outlet. She described the phone calls as “devastating.” She added, “He’s not the first person to lie about sleeping with someone, but he used the lie as an assault weapon.”

The Oscar-winning producer has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in detailed articles earlier this month.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s attorneys, Berk and Brafman, said: “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.”

In response to the N.Y.T. article Tuesday, C.A.A. released the following statement to The Wrap: “We apologize to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves, as individuals and as a company. We unequivocally support those who have spoken out publicly. Out of respect for our clients, we will maintain the confidence of anything said in private conversations.”

The company added, “We continue to take additional action. We established an initiative called Evolve, led by a group of 17 women, to evaluate and improve our existing policies and practices to ensure even greater vigilance, awareness, and information-sharing in preventing harassment.”