Harvey Weinstein Defense Attacks Jennifer Siebel Newsom in Closing Argument: ‘A Theatrical, Overly Dramatized Performance’

The Los Angeles jury was expected to get the case Friday, after the prosecution’s rebuttal

Harvey Weinstein
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 04: Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on October 4, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Harvey Weinstein was extradited from New York to Los Angeles to face sex-related charges. (Photo by Etienne Laurent-Pool/Getty Images)

Six weeks after Harvey Weinstein’s lead attorney called Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a “bimbo” who was seeking career advancement by sleeping with the producer, it turns out his defense team was saving their harshest words for last.

Defense attorneys had their final say in a Los Angeles criminal court Thursday, telling the jury that all eight women who testified that Weinstein raped or assaulted them were either liars, or “fame and fortune seekers” who all have five words in common: “Take my word for it.”

Weinstein’s closing-statement duties fell to Alan Jackson, who has been taking over for lead defense attorney Mark Werksman in several key cross-examinations throughout the trial, now deep into its second month. Jackson has been the more animated and pugnacious of the two litigators, and he wasn’t holding back Thursday.

“Everything … is smoke and mirrors,” Jackson said. “Can you accept what they say as gospel? They were untruthful with you. They all told you lies.”

Jackson went one-by-one though the Jane Does’ testimony, but parked for a minute on Siebel Newsom, who spent multiple days on the stand, getting highly emotional on multiple occasions and raising her voice through fits of sobbing.

“It was a theatrical, overly dramatized performance,” Jackson said. “What you saw was an act. A pretty good act. But it had no basis in truth. … It was almost like it was on cue, it was almost like it was rehearsed. Just because she cried the hardest or yelled the loudest, it does not change any of the facts.”

Jackson suggested that Siebel Newsom engaged in “transactional sex” with Weinstein, but came to regret it after the #MeToo movement took hold. Newsom testified that Weinstein summoned her for a meeting at his hotel and relentlessly pursued her around the room until he eventually raped her on a bed.

Siebel Newsom “cannot square in her mind the idea that she’s a successful, well educated, well-bred refined woman who had consensual sex with Harvey Weinstein in exchange for opportunity and access,” Jackson said. “Regret is not the same thing as rape. And it’s important we make that distinction in this courtroom.”

To back that framing, Jackson highlighted Siebel Newsom’s testimony that she only reached out to Weinstein once looking for campaign contributions for her husband. Then he displayed a series of emails from 2006-2008 “obsessively seeking” an audience with Weinstein, scrolling through examples for several minutes.

“Regret is far from rape. You don’t get to rewrite your own history no matter who you’re married to,” adding later that she turned against Weinstein after #MeToo “not because it was true, but because it was trendy.”

Prosecutors started their closing statements the day before, calling Weinstein a “degenerate rapist” and predator whose tactics were repeated over and over again across multiple witnesses. Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez wrapped up her closing statements Thursday, also spending some time focused on the testimony of Siebel Newsom.

Martinez called back to Werksman’s opening statement, when the defense lead called Newsom a “bimbo.”

“[The accusers] came to court and his attorney called them bimbos,” Martinez said, dramatically pointing at Werksman and Weinstein. “They knew his attorney would call them bimbos in open court … [Newsom] knew exactly what she was walking into, but came forward and told the truth. She had nothing to gain but to ensure that justice was sought.”

Weinstein furiously scribbled some notes on his legal pad during this moment, and silently showed it to Werksman. But when Jackson was presenting the defense closing, Weinstein turned and looked directly at the jury, as he has been doing throughout the trial.

When it was Jackson’s turn, his first words were:

“‘Take my word for it’ … five words that sum up the entirety of the prosecution’s case.”

Weinstein’s defense has maintained that the alleged assaults of Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 never happened, and that Jane Does 3 and 4 (Newsom) had “transactional” sex with Weinstein: “He benefited, she benefited,” Jackson said.

Wound up into an animated passion, Jackson began working at the credibility of all of the witnesses: “If you decide a witness deliberately lied over something significant in this case you should consider not believing anything that witness says,” he said, emphasizing a standard criminal-defense mantra.

Weinstein is already serving 23 years in a New York prison for criminal first-degree sexual assault and third-degree rape, a conviction he has been granted the right to appeal. He has maintained his innocence since the New York Times first published accusations against him five years ago.

Prosecutors originally brought 11 counts based on the accusations of eight women; however, Jane Doe 5 never materialized and without her testimony, four of the charges were dropped. Weinstein could still face up to 140 years in a California prison from the remaining five counts of sexual assault and two counts of rape.