Harvey Weinstein’s Defense Attorney Ben Brafman to Withdraw

Harvey Weinstein, left, arrives at New
Seth Wenig/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ben Brafman is expected to withdraw as Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorney, a move that is likely to postpone his criminal trial for rape and sexual assault.

Brafman has represented Weinstein from the early stages of the NYPD investigation, dating back to November 2017. Brafman had argued that Manhattan prosecutors brought the case due to political pressure, and blasted the D.A. and the detectives for missteps in the investigation. One of the six charges against Weinstein was dismissed, but Brafman twice failed to get the entire case thrown out.

In an email, Brafman said he was “not commenting on reason(s)” for his departure.

The news was first reported by ABC News’ Aaron Katersky. The Daily Beast reported last week that Weinstein was looking for additional defense attorneys to shore up his team. Weinstein denied at the time that he intended to fire Brafman: “The rumor is untrue. We are looking to augment the team, not replace anyone.”

Weinstein faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted. A trial date has tentatively been set for May 6, though that is likely to be rescheduled. Weinstein is next due to appear in court on March 7.

Brafman is a veteran of many high-profile cases, including the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, which was ultimately dismissed. He fought the Weinstein charges aggressively, filing repeated motions and letters to the judge attacking them from numerous angles. Brafman released emails and texts from Weinstein’s accusers, attempting to show that that they maintained affectionate relations with the disgraced producer well after the alleged sexual assaults. He also accused Det. Nicholas DiGaudio of suppressing exculpatory evidence.

It is not yet clear who will take Brafman’s place.

“There’s a lot of people out there, but my personal opinion is he’s never going to do better than Ben,” said defense attorney James Kousouros. “He’s an amazing trial lawyer.”

Kousouros added that it is not unusual to switch attorneys midway through a case.

“Clients are fickle,” he said. “They love you on Tuesday, and they hate you on Thursday.”