Breaking their silence about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — a major Democratic donor — former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle on Tuesday said they were “disgusted’ about news reports of Weinstein’s decades long sexual misconduct.
“Michelle and I have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein,” the Obamas said in a statement.
“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories.
“And we all need to build a culture — including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect — so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future,” the couple said.
The main GOP political operations — the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee — have been pressuring Democrats to jettison the contributions from Weinstein since the New York Times expose on Oct. 5 about his predatory sexual behavior.
The lack of comment – until Tuesday from the Obama’s and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, crusaders against sexual abuse — was noticeable as women stepped forward to tell their stories about Weinstein’s sexually predatory behavior.
Less than a week after the New York Times article, the New Yorker on Tuesday published the results of its own investigation into Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment.
The Obama’s developed a relationship close enough to Weinstein that daughter Malia — now a Harvard freshman — interned for his movie company in New York earlier this year.
At a Nov. 8, 2013 film symposium at the White House that Weinstein helped organize, Mrs. Obama gave Weinstein a shout out calling him “a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.’
During the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, Weinstein donated $61,600; it’s not clear how much he helped raise.
Weinstein was a donor to the House Democratic political operation. By Tuesday evening, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. also spoke out, saying in a statement:
“The news of Harvey Weinstein’s countless assaults on women and the clear efforts to intimidate his victims into silence are shocking. His despicable actions violate every standard of acceptable behavior. Every man who disrespects and attacks women must be held accountable.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the line of Democratic politicians ridding their campaign accounts of donations from Weinstein, sending nearly $13,000 to a non-profit organization as more allegations of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct surfaced on Tuesday.
Weinstein made two contributions to Emanuel’s mayoral campaigns — $5,600 just last June and $5,300 in September, 2013. In addition, Weinstein in June, 2004, gave $2,000 to Emanuel’s congressional campaign fund.
Emanuel campaign spokesman Pete Giangreco said a $10,900 donation was sent Monday to the non-profit, Working on Womanhood, headquartered in Chicago. WOW’s mission is to help young women at risk, the female counterpart to Becoming a Man, the mentoring program Emanuel has been boosting for several years.
Giangreco said on Tuesday that Emanuel’s mayoral campaign will write another check to WOW to cover Weinstein’s 2004 contribution.
A spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., said a $1,000 donation Weinstein sent to Durbin in December, 1995 — during Durbin’s first Senate run — will be contributed to the American Red Cross.
In a brief statement on Tuesday, Clinton made no mention about what her presidential campaign fund may do in the wake of the Weinstein bombshell allegations. The Obama’s also did not say if they will redirect any Weinstein contributions.
“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein,” Clinton said in a statement released by a spokesman, Nick Merrill. “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.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday declined to explain President Donald Trump’s cryptic comment on Saturday, when he told reporters, “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it.”
At the daily briefing, which took place after Clinton posted her statement, Sanders said, “I don’t know if he has seen Secretary Clinton’s statement, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about that, so I don’t want to weigh in on what his reaction might be on that front.”
Asked about the knowing Weinstein for a “long time” remark, Sanders said, “I think that statement speaks for itself. There is nothing to add.”
A year ago, a 2005 Access Hollywood video surfaced weeks before the presidential election in which Trump told host Billy Bush that a famous man can “do anything” to a woman, even “grab them by the p—-.” Trump later explained that as “locker room talk.”