The Lincoln Project condemns co-founder John Weaver after allegations of sexual misconduct towards young men

The Lincoln Project condemns co-founder John Weaver after allegations of sexual misconduct towards young men
John McCain (L) looks over some documents with then-campaign advisor John Weaver (R) while flying from Virginia Beach to Bismarck, North Dakota on February 28, 2000.Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
  • The Lincoln Project condemned co-founder John Weaver after sexual misconduct allegations.
  • More than 20 men alleged Weaver sent unsolicited sexual overtures online, The New York Times reported.
  • Earlier this month, Weaver acknowledged that he sent "inappropriate" messages to the men.

The Lincoln Project condemned its co-founder John Weaver after 21 men alleged he sent them unsolicited sexual overtures online.

"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," the group said in a statement.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that 21 men have alleged Weaver sent them unsolicited and sexually provocative messages, including at one point to a 14-year-old boy. He sent overt sexual solicitations to at least 10 of the men over a period of years.
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Weaver allegedly asked Cole Trickle Miele about his body when he was 14, but asked more direct questions after he turned 18.

Miele had followed Weaver on Twitter in 2015 and immediately got a private message from him but didn't think anything was strange about the situation.

"I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me," Miele told the Times.
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None of the men accused him of unlawful conduct. The messages led to just one consensual encounter, the Times reported.

Read more: Meet the corporate lobbying powerhouses that bankrolled Joe Biden's star-studded, fireworks-filled inauguration bashWeaver also offered professional help in exchange for sex, telling one man he would "spoil you when we see each other," the Times reported.
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"Help you other times. Give advice, counsel, help with bills. You help me…sensually," Weaver allegedly wrote.

Weaver was a former advisor to the late Senator John McCain and in 2019 co-founded The Lincoln Project, a group of GOP operatives who opposed former President Donald Trump. They achieved notoriety last year for campaigning against Trump and his allies, with billboards in New York City mocking Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Earlier this month, Axios reported that men had accused Weaver of sending inappropriate messages.
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At the time, Weaver told Axios: "To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you."

"The truth is that I'm gay," Weaver added. "And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place."

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Weaver took a "medical leave of absence" from the group last summer and "will not be returning to the group," Axios said earlier this month.

In their statement, The Lincoln Project said it was grateful Weaver was never around other members.

"The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it. Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver," the group said. "We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project."
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However, Ryan Girdusky, a writer for The American Conservative who first reported on the allegations on January 11, told The Washington Post that the group's statement was false and The Lincoln Project has known about the allegations since last year.

"Unequivocally, nobody contacted the Lincoln project to make any type of warnings about John Weaver's conduct," co-founder Steve Schmidt, a political strategist, told the Insider. Schmidt said he heard rumors about Weaver's sexuality dating back at least 20 years, but the group began seeing "chatter"about Weaver was gay in conservative web forums last July. Weaver, at the time, denied the allegations.
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"We were picking up things on our monitoring of social media, conservative chat groups, and became aware that there were rumors about John Weaver's sexuality," he said. "There were allegations that Weaver, who was married with kids, was gay and my reaction at that time was to hope that that was not true because I would have regarded it in that context tragically. Somebody's living a closeted life, not being able to be who they are is a tragic thing."

He said the group was only aware of the troubling correspondence between Weaver when news outlets reported on it earlier this month. He added that The New York Times informed the organization of the allegation against the 14-year-old boy just a few days ago.

"That harassment is unacceptable. And the contact with a 14-year-old boy that lasted for years is completely morally repugnant, completely unacceptable. We absolutely condemn it," Schmidt said.
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