John Weaver, co-founder of the anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project, has been accused of sexually harassing and grooming young men online after a total of 21 victims came forward over the month of January.
Weaver is a Republican strategist who helped run John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008 as well as John Kasich’s presidential campaign in 2016. In 2019, he co-founded The Lincoln Project and subsequently created a prominent group of GOP operatives who staunchly opposed President Donald Trump.
In early January, Axios reported that allegations of virtual sexual misconduct were quickly mounting against Weaver. Although the article itself did not gain much traction in mainstream media, the exposure prompted Weaver to release a statement of apology.
“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.” Weaver wrote. “The truth is that I’m gay,” he 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.”
According to New York Times, Weaver’s solicitations included messaging a 14-year-old for several years before sending him more overtly sexual correspondence when the boy turned 18. Several of Weaver’s victims also reported that he had paired his sexually suggestive messages with promises of helping them get work in politics. As a result, many men described feeling preyed upon by an influential older man who held great rank in the field in which they wanted to work. In order to earn the professional opportunity that they were being guaranteed, these men consequently believed that they had to engage with Weaver’s repeated messaging.
Nonetheless, none of the 21 men that came forward have accused Weaver of unlawful conduct and it appears that none of the messages lead to physical encounters (except for one that was allegedly consensual). Weaver is currently on a “medical leave of absence” and announced that he will not be rejoining The Lincoln Project. In response to the news, The Lincoln Project released a statement of their own that condemned Weaver and denounced him from the group.
“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 statement said. The group also called Weaver “a predator, a liar and an abuser.” Co-founder Steve Scmidt did reveal that the group knew Weaver may have been having relationships with men, but he claimed that “there was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior” before these accusations came to light.