Harvey Weinstein’s New York trial gets off to a dramatic start

JUDY WOODRUFF: The long-awaited criminal trial
of Harvey Weinstein began in New York City this week. Amna Nawaz has the details. AMNA NAWAZ: More than 80 women have accused
Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct going back decades. But the New York trial, where jury selection
began today, is based on charges brought by two women. Weinstein faces one count of rape
and one count of criminal sexual assault. He has maintained his sexual encounters with
the women were consensual. Just hours after the trial began, a separate
rape charge was brought against Weinstein in California, one of several criminal charges
filed in a complaint there. Jodi Kantor, along with fellow New York Times
reporter Megan Twohey, first broke the Weinstein story more than two years ago, and they co-authored
the book “She Said.” Jodi Kantor joins me now from New York. Jodi, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” A lot of people will think, when there were
so many women who came forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, why is this one
case based on just the stories of two of those women? JODI KANTOR, The New York Times: Well, remember
that so many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, if you think of a kind of ocean
of complaints out there, are not actually eligible for criminal prosecution. When you apply the statute of limitations,
that ocean gets smaller. When you talk about acts that are not just sexual harassment — I
mean, many of the allegations against Weinstein are very disturbing. There are tales of harassment,
of abusive behavior, but those allegations aren’t necessarily criminal. You can’t go
to jail for them. So the ocean gets smaller then. If you talk
about women who are willing to come forward and participate in the process, the ocean
gets even smaller. So what we’re left with is this very narrow
case that stands in contrast to the huge number of allegations against him. But that’s part
of why the news from Los Angeles about him being charged there was so significant, because
it means that Harvey Weinstein is now fighting these kinds of charges on two fronts at the
same time. AMNA NAWAZ: So, Jodi, what about those two
cases now in New York and Los Angeles? Could they have an impact on each other? JODI KANTOR: Well, the obvious thing is, they
significantly increase Harvey Weinstein’s legal jeopardy in combination. Even if he gets off in New York, he will face
a trial in L.A. Now, what’s interesting is that there’s a woman, an alleged Weinstein
victim, who is actually involved in both cases. She is part of the charges in L.A., and she’s
supposed to be a supporting witness here in New York. AMNA NAWAZ: Tell me about that jury selection. Now, lawyers have to pick 12 judges, six alternates
from a pool of hundreds of New Yorkers. Especially for a case like this, how critical is that
process? JODI KANTOR: Really critical, really complicated. First of all, remember that conviction requires
unanimity from a jury. So the question of the selection of jurors, it’s essential, both
for the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution wants people who will believe
these charges. The defense wants people who will be skeptical, who they can create doubt
and questions. On the one hand, the defense, I think, especially
will have a preference for people who haven’t read a lot of the news of this case. On the
other hand, given the way it’s dominated the news for two years, it seems like that will
be almost impossible. AMNA NAWAZ: Jodi, you been outside of the
courthouse. Some of your colleagues have been reporting from inside that courtroom. Weinstein
has already run afoul of the judge in this case. The judge got quite angry with him today. Tell me about what you can share about his
conduct, both the way he entered the courtroom and what’s been going on inside. JODI KANTOR: You know, I was standing yesterday
morning with a group of alleged Weinstein victims who were waiting outside the courthouse.
They wanted to not confront him verbally, but they wanted to look him in the eye as
he came into the courthouse. One of them even said that she had not seen
Weinstein since the alleged violation years beforehand. So they were waiting. And he sort
of swept into the courthouse without giving them a glance. He was surrounded by his legal
team. He was sort of hobbling with a walker. But the judge, who — Justice Burke, who is
a very exacting judge — he’s a former prosecutor, has a reputation for being fair, but tough
— he has already admonished Weinstein in the past. They had a cell phone problem in
the courtroom several months ago. Today, apparently, Weinstein did it again,
and the judge was very tough on him. He said to him — feels like it could have been a
line in a movie. He said to him: Mr. Weinstein, is this how you want to go to jail, for using
your cell phone in a courtroom? He was essentially threatening to remand him
to a jail, unless Weinstein played by the rules. AMNA NAWAZ: A dramatic beginning to a trial
that’s sure to take several weeks to unfold. Jodi Kantor is going to be following it all. Jodi, thank you so much for being with us
today. JODI KANTOR: Thank you.

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