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.

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