Harvey Weinstein's lawyer Ben Brafman was in full damage-control mode on Friday, disputing a report by columnist Taki Theodoracopulos in the British magazine Spectator that the disgraced mogul said he had offered women acting jobs in exchange for sex.
Brafman, who was present for the conversation, which he described as "not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends," disputed Taki's published account. "Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors," Brafman said. "Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light."
In a statement from Brafman's office attributed to Taki Theodoracopulos, the veteran columnist said, "After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinstein's conversation with me in New York last month. It was my mistake."
Theodoracopulos and reps for the Spectator did not respond to direct requests for comment; at press time, the original story, titled "Harvey Weinstein: 'I offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so does everyone - they still do,'" was still on the Spectator website.
Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, faces possible life in prison for multiple felony charges in New York City, including rape and predatory sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
He is also under criminal investigation in Los Angeles and London for additional accusations of misconduct. In addition, he faces several lawsuits, including a class-action RICO suit filed by several of his accusers, and a separate one filed by actress Ashley Judd, who accused him of sabotaging her career.
In the now-disputed Spectator interview, which took place at Weinstein's small rented office near Grand Central Station in New York City, Weinstein is also quoted as saying, "I never, ever forced myself on a single woman."
In the Spectator interview, Taki said Weinstein made unsubstantiated claims about two actresses who have accused him of sexual assault -- Rose McGowan and Asia Argento -- and shared what Taki called a "twisted story" about Argento's relationship with late chef Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide in June.
Even Taki, a writer long sympathetic to Weinstein, wasn't buying the Hollywood producer's claims: "He was, to use a terrible cliché, clutching for straws."
Argento, one of the first women to speak out against Weinstein, has been a frequent target of criticism both before and after Bourdain's death.
McGowan dismissed Weinstein's latest interview in the Spectator, saying on Twitter, "rapist are liars."
Being that I was in the middle of my second film for his company, having NEVER met him before the morning of my rape, and never worked for him again, this is a clear lie. Nice try, rapist. https://t.co/A2l3U1Wp4h
-- rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) July 13, 2018
In addition to McGowan, dozens of people who spoke out during the #MeToo movement have come to Argento's defense, signing a statement of solidarity in support of the actress, calling out "internet trolls" who have targeted her since the suicide of Bourdain.
"Asia has now found herself on the receiving end of vicious cyberbullying and repulsive slander at the hands of internet trolls who hold her responsible for Anthony's death," the statement reads. "She has been accused of everything from causing her boyfriend's suicide to trying to use her "survivor status" and the #MeToo movement to advance her career."