The FBI has opened an investigation into Harvey Weinstein for alleged sex crimes, the DailyMail reported on Wednesday evening, a move that reportedly came at the behest of the DOJ which instructed the bureau to investigate the mounting allegations leveled at the movie mogul. The move comes amid rumors that Weinstein plans to head to Europe for sex rehab – leading to fears that Weinstein could attempt to pull a "Roman Polanski" where he lands in some non-extradition country in Europe to dodge U.S. prosecution.
The FBI can both look at whether he has committed any federal crimes in the U.S. and prepare extradition proceedings if he remains in Europe.
The Mail writes that while it is unknown whether the DOJ order came directly from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the probe will likely be seen in a political light given Weinstein's friendship with Trump foe Hillary Clinton. Additionally, it is not yet known if Sessions gave the direct order or if Trump requested the investigation, however the president has previously said he wasn't surprised by the sexual harassment and assault claims made against Weinstein.
Trump said shortly after news of the shock report on Thursday: 'I've known him for years. I'm not surprised.'
Among the allegations against Weinstein, which the FBI is expected to examine, is that he forced Lucia Evans, a student who wanted to be an actress, to perform oral sex on him in New York in 2004. And since New York State has no statute of limitations on rape and criminal sexual acts - its legal term for forced oral or anal intercourse - Weinstein may be out of luck if Evans, or any other number of women who have stepped up in recent days, decides to press charges.
Ironically, even escaping to Europe may not help the scandalous former movie exec: So far five accusers have given accounts of attacks in France, while allegations of attacks in London have also surfaced – any of which could lead to charges there. Additionally, the FBI has field offices in both countries and could assist prosecutors there with their cases.
Weinstein was a big donor for Hillary Clinton, who kept silent for five days after the accusations emerged, before finally denouncing her longtime friend in a statement on Tuesday;
"I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior."
She has, however, remained silent on the crucial issue of the vast amount of cash Weinstein donated directly to her and her family. The move by the DOJ comes as it emerged the movie mogul has taken on top criminal defense lawyers Blair Berk and David Chesnoff. Berk has represented A-listers like, Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, Britney Spears, Kiefer Sutherland, and Lindsay Lohan, while Chesnoff’s clients have included Vince Neil, Bruno Mars, Paris Hilton, Leonardo DiCaprio and the family of Michael Jackson. The pair will join his expanding legal team following an article in the New Yorker, which alleged three women were sexually assaulted by him.
Up to 30 women have now come forward to make allegations of sexual misconduct