The Lincoln Project, a PAC formed in 2019 to oppose then-President Donald Trump, has found itself at the center of an exploding scandal after one of its founders, John Weaver, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple men.
Weaver founded the Lincoln Project along with three other disgruntled Republicans — strategist Steve Schmidt, former Republican Party chair Michael Steele, and attorney George Conway. But after news broke of the accusations against Weaver, his co-founders are scrambling to avoid the fallout. Conway went on MSNBC on Monday in an attempt to distance himself from Weaver.
“I didn’t know John [Weaver] very well,” Conway said. “I frankly only spoke to him a couple times on the phone early on in the Lincoln Project.”
Fox News contributor Joe Concha quickly pushed back on Conway’s claim, saying on Monday, “You didn’t know him very well? You co-founded this Lincoln Project thingy, raised more than $80 million last year going into the election and, oh by the way, there is an op-ed in The New York Times that you co-wrote with Mr. Weaver.”
Trouble in the Never-Trump world
Nearly two dozen young men have come forward claiming Weaver sent them unsolicited online messages, some which appeared to solicit sexual favors in return for career opportunities that Weaver could provide.
One, in particular, said he was only 14 when Weaver first messaged him, “asking questions about his body while he was still in high school and then more pointed ones after he turned 18,” as the New York Times reported on Sunday. The story first broke earlier in January with reporting by The American Conservative, Forensic News and other media outlets.
Weaver, 61, has a long history with the Republican party. He worked for the late John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and former Ohio governor John Kasich’s campaign.
Considering the people who Weaver worked with, it is safe to say that Weaver represents the old wing of the Republican party, and it is no surprise that he would help found an organization like the Lincoln Project, which was explicitly designed to take down Trump.
He was joined by Schmidt, Steel, and Conway, who also felt that the GOP establishment’s power and influence was on the decline with the rise of Donald Trump.
Now Conway and his associates are working hard to extricate themselves from the mess Weaver has created. Following Sunday’s Times report, the Lincoln Project issued a statement, disavowing and condemning Weaver: “John Weaver led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level. He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior. We are disgusted and outraged that someone in a position of power and trust would use it for these means.”
Weaver offered an apology in a statement to the Times: “I am so disheartened and sad that I may have brought discomfort to anyone in what I thought at the time were mutually consensual discussions. In living a deeply closeted life, I allowed my pain to cause pain for others. For that I am truly sorry to these men and everyone and for letting so many people down.”
Republican party moving on
While Weaver’s colleagues scramble to distance themselves from him, their Never Trump movement faces a bleak future. Despite losing the election to President Joe Biden, Donald Trump and his MAGA agenda still enjoys widespread support and will continue to be a force in the Republican Party. And the Never Trumpers who betrayed conservative voters will find no home on the left, which no longer has a use for them.