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The 2017 #MeToo Movement changed Harvey Weinstein prosecutor Cyrus Vance's perspective on sexual assault cases, he told "Axios on HBO" in an interview which aired Sunday.

Why it matters: Vance originally declined to prosecute Weinstein in 2015 over sexual misconduct allegations. He's since faced calls to resign but says he has to "focus on the job" and not be distracted.

  • "We're gonna make decisions on every case. We're not gonna make the right decision in every case. That's — at the end of the day, humans are making these judgment calls," Vance noted.

What they're saying: Vance said his belated decision to prosecute Weinstein was due to an "evolution of my understanding of the dynamics of sexual assaults."

  • "I think in the aftermath of the #MeToo Movement in October 2017, society has evolved. And in terms of bringing cases, really those decisions are made on the facts and the law and not for any other reason. You have to do that in this job, or else you'd be zigzagging right and left every day because there's always pressure from somebody," Vance added.

Asked by "Axios on HBO" why he declined to prosecute in 2015 if he believes Weinstein's accusers, Vance said:

  • "It's hard to generalize so — in such a black and white way. I would describe it as an evolution. And we are all evolving. The police are constantly evolving and self-evaluating. So are we."
  • Vance believes his office bringing the case now is an "indication" that he will be more aggressive in prosecuting sexual cases going forward.
  • "It will affirm in my mind and confirm in the mind of the office that we'll, you know, that we'll take really, really tough cases if we believe in 'em," he said.

The big picture: A Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty last week on two of five counts in his trial, including a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.

  • Charges mounted against Weinstein were a major kick-starter for the global #MeToo movement.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 via 1-800-656-4673 or chat. Learn more at RAINN.org.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

4 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).