- A prominent Democratic lawyer representing Harvey Weinstein worked to crush an explosive New York Times story about his conduct while simultaneously representing the paper.
- The lawyer, David Boies, said he doesn’t believe his work posed any conflict of interest.
- The Times called the revelation a “grave betrayal of trust” and said it was “intolerable conduct.”
- Boies admitted that if Weinstein’s inappropriate behaviour continued past 2015, then he bore some responsibility for it.
David Boies, a prominent Democratic lawyer who represented former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, worked to suppress The New York Times’ reporting on Weinstein while representing the paper in other matters, The New Yorker reported on Monday.
Weinstein reportedly hired private security companies staffed with former foreign intelligence officials to investigate and cover up sexual-harassment allegations against him when they first started emerging in the fall of 2016.
Boies was part of that effort, according to The New Yorker, and “personally directed” one of the firms, Black Cube, to find information that would stop The Times from publishing its story.
The Times first broke the Weinstein allegations in October.
Boies’ firm ultimately owed Black Cube $US600,000 as part of a contract which outlined a project whose main goal was to “provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper,” according to The New Yorker. Sources confirmed to the magazine that the “Client” referred to in the contract was Weinstein and the “leading NY paper” was The Times.
After The Times published its investigation last month, The New Yorker followed up with several new detailed allegations shortly after. In all, nearly 80 women have accused Weinstein of varying degrees of sexual misconduct.
Boies confirmed to The New Yorker that his law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, worked with two of the companies Weinstein hired to investigate his accusers, and that he forwarded Weinstein information that investigators from one of the companies extracted from the women. Though he denied that his actions — trying to squash a Times story while representing the outlet — created a conflict of interest, Boies said his firm’s interaction with the private investigators was “a mistake at the time.”
Responding to questions about whether there was any conflict of interest regarding his working simultaneously to crush The Times’ story while representing the paper in a libel lawsuit, Boies implied that his work was to The Times’ benefit. “If evidence could be uncovered to convince The Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to The Times’ interest,” Boies told The New Yorker.
‘A grave betrayal of trust’
The Times released a statement following The New Yorker’s revelations, calling Boies’ and his firm’s conduct “intolerable,” “a grave betrayal of trust,” and “a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe.”
“It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies,” the Times statement said.
When trying to extract information from his accusers, operatives working for the firms Weinstein hired typically created false identities designed to gain the accusers’ trust.
An investigator working for Black Cube, for example, pretended to be a women’s rights advocate when she met with Rose McGowan, one of the actresses who has accused Weinstein of rape. McGowan is a women’s rights advocate as well, and told The New Yorker that the operative, who posed as a woman named Diana Filip who worked at a fictional wealth-management firm, was “very nice” and met with her multiple times to extract information.
The operative also assumed a separate fake identity and met twice with one journalist chasing down the Weinstein story, while posing as an accuser named “Anna,” in an effort to find out which other women had made allegations about Weinstein to the media. She also emailed Jodi Kantor of The Times, who first broke news of the allegations along with reporter Megan Twohey.
Boies expressed regret regarding Weinstein’s behaviour toward women. “Although he vigorously denies using physical force, Mr. Weinstein has himself recognised that his contact with women was indefensible and incredibly hurtful,” he told The New Yorker. He said that in retrospect, he “knew enough” in 2015 to be “on notice of a problem,” and should have done something about it.
Boies added that he didn’t know if Weinstein’s behaviour continued past 2015, but if it did, he bore some responsibility.
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