President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, calling the verdict a “great victory” for women, before attacking Democrats for accepting donations from the movie mogul.
Weinstein, 67, was found guilty on Monday of first-degree criminal sex act for the assault of former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haleyi in 2006 and third-degree rape for the 2013 assault of former actress Jessica Mann. While Weinstein was cleared of first-degree rape and the most serious charges against him, two counts of predatory sexual assault, he now faces a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
“I was just not a fan of his,” Trump insisted at a press conference in India during his two-day state visit. “I knew him a little bit, not very well. I knew him because he was in New York. Not a person that I liked.”
Trump—who was photographed with Weinstein in 2009 at an afterparty for the producer’s film Nine—agreed that the guilty verdict “sends a very strong message” about sexual misconduct, but then quickly launched into a tirade about his relationship with Democrats.
“I will say, the people that liked him were the Democrats. Michelle Obama loved him. Loved him. Hillary Clinton loved him. And he gave tremendous money to the Democrats, and I guess my question is, will the Democrats be asking for that money back?” Trump said. “Because he gave a lot of money to the Democrats, and you know, it’s too bad, but that’s the way it worked out.”
While Trump admitted he didn’t know the “actual results” of Monday’s verdict due to his state visit in India, the president, who also has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women, said “from the standpoint of women” the conviction “was a great thing.”
“It was a great victory and sends a very strong message, a very, very strong message,” he added.
In an interview on Tuesday to promote the documentary series Hillary, Clinton acknowledged her previous connection to Weinstein—who has been accused by more than 80 women of sexual harassment and rape.
She added that the Pulp Fiction producer “contributed to every Democrat’s campaign—he contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign, John Kerry’s campaign, Al Gore’s campaign, everyone’s campaign.” Clinton added that the verdict “really speaks for itself.”
“I don’t know whether that should chill anyone else from contributing to political campaigns, but it should certainly end the kind of behavior for which he was convicted for,” Clinton said, according to Variety.
Other Democrats have acknowledged their connections with Weinstein since 2017 after bombshell reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed a slew of sexual-misconduct allegations against the producer and jump-started the global #MeToo movement.
Since those first accusers came forward, many Democrats have donated the amount of money they received from him to various charities, including groups that advocate for domestic violence victims. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) donated $5,000 to charity for the contribution she received from Weinstein for her 2012 Senate campaign.
Throughout the trial, six women testified against the Oscar winner, most of them claiming he lured them into isolated places to discuss their potential careers in the entertainment industry before sexually assaulting them.
Haleyi, who emotionally testified how Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his SoHo apartment during a supposed business meeting, told CBS on Tuesday she was “grateful and happy” with the verdict and hopes her decision to testify will help people see the “reality of sexual assaults and sexual assault victims.”
“It was a huge relief that the jury got it,” she said. “I felt just very grateful that they—that I’d been heard and believed. And, yeah, I mean, I’m still processing, I think. But it was just a relief.”
Dawn Dunning, a former aspiring actress who alleged Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2004 before asking for a threesome with his assistant, called the jury’s decision “a huge victory for women.”
Weinstein, who is currently receiving medical attention at Bellevue Hospital Tuesday after he was led away from Manhattan Supreme Court in handcuffs, still faces sex crime charges in Los Angeles for assaulting two women in 2013.
“Just seeing someone so powerful taken down and being held accountable for his action—is a huge moment,” Dunning told CNN. “I don’t look at this as the end of a trial, it’s the beginning of something bigger.”