LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Siebel Newsom already had her personal profession as an actor and a documentary maker when Gavin Newsom was elected governor of California in 2018. She was well-known sufficient to assist her husband draw consideration and crowds, and was at his aspect setting technique as the longer term first couple campaigned, typically with their kids, on a bus throughout the state.
And as soon as Mr. Newsom took workplace, Ms. Siebel Newsom, 48, sought to recast the position of being the governor’s spouse in California: Out went the title “first woman.” She was the “first companion.” Her curiosity in gender equality and feminism influenced Mr. Newsom’s insurance policies from the earliest days of his governorship, as that they had influenced the documentary-producing basis she created in 2011, the Representation Project. She cut up her time between an workplace up the corridor from her husband’s and her workplace on the basis.
However for the previous two searing days, Ms. Siebel Newsom has endured a special sort of consideration, as a key witness within the sexual abuse trial of Harvey Weinstein right here in Los Angeles. A packed courtroom watched as she broke down in tears — struggling to catch her breath — as she testified on Monday that Mr. Weinstein dragged her to a mattress at a Beverly Hills lodge in 2005 the place he grabbed at her breasts, forcibly eliminated her underwear after which penetrated her along with his fingers and penis. On the time, she was a younger actress attempting to interrupt into the enterprise.
She testified understanding that her detailed account towards Mr. Weinstein — who’s going through seven expenses in Los Angeles, together with two counts of rape and 5 counts of sexual assault — might invite a brutal cross-examination from his protection lawyer, Mark Werksman, who had referred to her in open court docket as “a bimbo” in his opening assertion final month. And that’s what occurred on Tuesday as Mr. Werksman pelted Ms. Siebel Newsom with rapid-fire questions on the stand.
In tense confrontations, he steered that she had invited Mr. Weinstein’s sexual advances to advertise her personal profession. “You thought that you could possibly advance professionally by having a relationship with Mr. Weinstein,” Mr. Werksman stated.
Later, Mr. Werksman questioned her in regards to the account she gave to the authorities in 2020. At one level, when she was gradual to reply, the protection lawyer stated, “Are you too drained to testify?”
Ms. Siebel Newsom teared up, and Mr. Werksman stated, “Can you reply my questions?”
“What you’re doing at the moment is precisely what he did to me,” she stated.
He additionally accused her of shifting testimony since she appeared earlier than a grand jury in 2020.
“As you pulled reminiscences out of the field, you modified them,” Mr. Werksman stated.
“Sir, he assaulted me,” she responded.
Her testimony occurred every week after Mr. Newsom was re-elected by a powerful margin to a second time period, cementing his standing as a number one determine in nationwide Democratic politics and stirring hypothesis a few doable run for the White Home. This week, Mr. Newsom waited down the corridor as his spouse testified; an aide stated he would haven’t any touch upon what transpired on Tuesday.
Regardless of the consequence of the trial, Ms. Siebel Newsom’s determination to go public together with her expertise has helped to outline somebody who was already one of many best-known governor’s spouses within the nation. “Siebel Newsom might have dodged this, refused to enter that courthouse,” a columnist for The Los Angeles Occasions wrote after observing her testimony, including that as an alternative she selected “not solely to face Weinstein however to face us all.”
Ms. Siebel Newsom is one among 4 essential witnesses testifying towards Mr. Weinstein. He’s already serving a 23-year jail sentence in New York, which is beneath attraction.
Ms. Siebel Newsom and Mr. Newsom have been pioneers of types, attempting to navigate the dynamics of being a political couple at a time when each spouses have their very own careers and pursuits.
Shortly after Mr. Newsom was elected, they determined towards transferring into the 145-year-old governor’s mansion in Sacramento that was so identified along with his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown. (Mr. Brown lived there as a governor and because the son of a governor.) The brand new first couple determined that the Victorian mansion, with its steep centerpiece stairway and its lack of privateness, was not appropriate for a household with 4 kids, they usually instead bought a house in Honest Oaks, outdoors of Sacramento.
The 2 met on a blind date in 2006 when Mr. Newsom was the mayor of San Francisco. She was the daughter of a rich household in Marin County, who obtained a enterprise diploma from Stanford College and labored for nonprofits in Africa and Latin America earlier than turning to a profession in Hollywood, throughout which she met Mr. Weinstein.
After relationship and getting married, they’d keep their very own careers, however their paths have been parallel and infrequently intertwined. Mr. Newsom served two phrases as mayor of San Francisco and have become lieutenant governor beneath Mr. Brown, biding his time till Mr. Brown needed to depart workplace due to time period limits. Ms. Siebel Newsom had a couple of bit elements on tv and in films, together with enjoying a small position on “Mad Males,” earlier than breaking into documentaries, first drawing consideration with “Miss Illustration,” a documentary she made in 2011.
As grew to become clear within the trial, Ms. Siebel Newsom has helped Mr. Newsom’s political profession, soliciting a marketing campaign contribution from Mr. Weinstein and looking for recommendation from the producer on how her boyfriend on the time, working for re-election as San Francisco mayor, ought to cope with revelations that he had a 2005 affair along with his marketing campaign’s supervisor’s spouse. Each of these occasions occurred after Ms. Siebel Newsom’s encounter with Mr. Weinstein and have been mentioned in court docket the previous two days.
Ms. Siebel Newsom’s foundation has also benefited from contributions from corporations and figures which have performed enterprise with Mr. Newsom’s authorities, an association that has drawn criticism from authorities watchdogs.
By way of the session on Tuesday, the exchanges between Ms. Siebel Newsom and Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer riveted the courtroom. Mr. Werksman spent the afternoon digging by way of emails that she despatched Mr. Weinstein within the months and years after she stated she was assaulted, together with invites to satisfy together with her and Mr. Newsom.
The protection lawyer repeatedly requested how she might nonetheless be cordial with somebody who she stated raped her; Ms. Siebel Newsom stated that she didn’t bear in mind lots of the messages and that she noticed them as “simply enterprise.”
At one level, she testified that when she first informed the police in regards to the assault in 2020, she didn’t anticipate having to testify in a courtroom, as a result of she believed her account would fall outdoors of the statute of limitations.
“I supplied to speak to detectives initially to help different ladies, to not be up right here on the witness stand,” she stated. “I actually was simply telling my fact, and I didn’t know what the end result was going to be.”
Ms. Siebel Newsom was dismissed late Tuesday after spending hours on the stand, and it was Marlene Martinez, the prosecutor, who introduced the day to an emotional crescendo by asking the witness, in a single query after one other, whether or not she consented to totally different sexual acts with Mr. Weinstein. “No!” Ms. Siebel Newsom shouted every time, feelings constructing, earlier than she was launched and left the room in tears.
Whereas Mr. Newsom was not within the courtroom, Mr. Werksman talked about him a number of instances as he famous that Ms. Siebel Newsom is the spouse of the California governor. Lisa B. Lench, the Los Angeles County Superior Court docket choose presiding over the case, directed attorneys final month to to stay targeted on the problem within the trial and keep away from dialogue of Mr. Newsom’s politics.
However at instances, Mr. Werksman appeared unable to withstand citing the high-profile nature of the witness he was confronting on the stand.
“You’re the spouse of the governor of California on the time and also you’re about to satisfy with the police and a deputy D.A., and also you didn’t assume that the consequence of what you stated was that you’d be a sufferer in an indictment?” the protection lawyer stated.