Jennifer Siebel Newsom acknowledged from the stand Monday that she asked Harvey Weinstein for a political donation for now-California Gov. Gavin Newsom – but said her husband gave the money back after the #MeToo movement took hold.
Newsom endured a grueling first day of testimony, publicly disclosing for the first time details of an assault she alleges happened in 2004 or 2005, when she was still an aspiring actress and had not yet met her future husband. Under friendly questioning from prosecutors, she became extremely emotional telling the jury that Weinstein called her for a meeting at the Peninsula and aggressively raped her.
Before the prosecution turned Newsom over to cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez sought to get ahead of the political-donations question, asking whether any such request came after the alleged assault.
“I believe I did once,” Newsom said. “And I believe my husband gave the money back later.”
“Why did you ask him?” asked Martinez.
“He was affiliated with the Democratic party and had given major donations to Democrats,” Newsom replied. “At the time, my husband was running for office and I wanted to be helpful to my husband.”
When Weinstein defense attorney Mark Werksman took over, he picked up right where Martinez left off. Newsom clarified early on that it was Gavin Newsom’s people who asked Weinstein for donations at her suggestion.
“And you had told [your husband] that Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted you?”
She replied that she had not.
“When did you tell Gavin Newsom about this allegation of sexual assault?”
“I told him that Harvey was sketchy at different times,” she replied, “and he picked up on it himself when he met him.”
Werksman established that Newsom wasn’t entirely sure who she first told that Weinstein had assaulted her, but that it might have been her husband. But she said he didn’t yet know about the assault at the time they were asking Weinstein for a political donation, and couldn’t remember whether that was during his mayoral or gubernatorial campaign.
“My husband raises hundreds of millions of dollars for campaigns,” she said.
Werksman then asked if Newsom returned Weinstein’s donations after the #MeToo movement. She agreed that was the moment.
“Right away,” she said. “He’s very ethical.”
Werksman again asked outright when Newsom told her husband about the alleged assault.
“Sir, I dropped hints along the way,” she said. “He knew something was off when we were at the SAG Awards and the way Harvey looked at me.”
She said it was around October 2017.
“It was his 50th birthday, and I was having an emotional meltdown” – a statement that raised a prosecution objection which the judge sustained, instructing Newsom to just answer the questions directly.
“He didn’t know it was bad money until the whole world knew about the #MeToo movement in October 2017?” Werksman asked.
Another objection, also sustained.
But Newsom took money, Werksman said, “from somebody you hinted had done something despicable to you.”
“It’s complex,” she replied.
Newsom was expected back on the stand Tuesday morning.