MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panel on Wednesday lambasted Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for not prosecuting Harvey Weinstein in the past, even after a sting operation produced damning audio of the Hollywood mogul.
Columnist Mike Barnicle said there is something to be learned from Vance's decision not to press charges against Weinstein.
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It is an "age old story about the issues of status, power, clout, and money in America that can separate you from consequences," he said.
"The New York Police Department had enough to go forward with a case on Harvey Weinstein: they had tape, they had motive, they had repetitive behavior," Barnicle continued. "And somehow that got the shut down on the way to the Manhattan district attorney's office."
"I can't believe that in 2017 this is how justice is actually performed in Manhattan," host Joe Scarborough added.
Scarborough expressed outrage at Vance's actions and said he wanted to know more about the circumstances surrounding them.
"I want to know about these contributions to this DA and charges not being pursued against Harvey Weinstein," he said. "Is it really that easy in 2017 to write a check to a DA and you get charges dropped? I mean, this is out of "The Simpsons;" this is out of Mayor Quimby! This is a joke!"
The MSNBC panel was referring to new details revealed in a New Yorker story published Tuesday. A week after the New York Times reported that Weinstein settled at least eight sexual harassment claims over the span of 30 years, the New Yorker added that at least three women have accused Weinstein of rape. The New Yorker report noted that, in one instance in 2015, Italian actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez staged a sting operation with the police. Gutierrez secretly recorded Weinstein admitting he groped her and that he does so to other women often.
Vance ultimately decided not to press charges against Weinstein, though police sources told the New Yorker that they had sufficient evidence to prosecute the movie producer on a count of sexual abuse.
A year after Vance's decision, Weinstein's longtime lawyer David Boies donated $10,000 to the district attorney's reelection fund. Boies' law firm says there was nothing inappropriate about the donation, noting that he had donated to Vance before the incident.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski read a statement from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office released on Tuesday that explained there needed to be criminal intent for the case against Weinstein to be prosecuted.
Statement by Chief ADA Karen Friedman Agnifilo on allegations against Harvey Weinstein — pic.twitter.com/4kLfEk60re
— Cyrus Vance, Jr. (@ManhattanDA) October 10, 2017