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Producer Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage

New York federal prosecutors have started a criminal probe into sex-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein over whether the veteran Hollywood producer had lured or persuaded women to travel across state lines for the purpose of carrying out a sex crime, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The publication reports that local prosecutors haven’t brought any criminal charges against Weinstein since the start of the #MeToo movement, and that federal prosecutors are infuriated. Individual sexual assault allegations are typically handled by local authorities, experts told the WSJ.

The details: Authorities in New York City and Los Angeles launched probes into Weinstein following a slew of sexual-harassment accusations from women in October. Both are still pending.

  • The WSJ said it's unclear what specific allegations federal prosecutors are reviewing, and that the probe is unrelated and independent from an inquiry by the Manhattan District Attorney — who was lambasted for not prosecuting Weinstein even though a woman had provided police with a recording in which Weinstein admits to groping her breasts.

What they’re saying: Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told the WSJ that he has met with federal prosecutors to “dissuade” them from proceeding. “Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts,” Brafman said.

What to watch: NYPD officials said the agency is prepared to arrest Weinstein and is awaiting permission from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Go deeper

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.