Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Lincoln Project’s Predator

The longtime McCain aide and Kasich strategist has been accused of grooming young men by multiple named accusers
US Arizona Senator and Republican Presidential hop

Over the summer, John Weaver, the co-founder of the Never-Trump Republican Lincoln Project, followed me on Twitter. It struck me as odd, given that my account was supportive of the president, but I thought little of it. Within a few hours, a young man I know over Twitter sent me a direct message asking if Weaver had contacted me privately, and told me to be on my guard.

This man, who will stay anonymous, told me he was in communication with several young men solicited by Weaver for a job, after which he propositioned them for sex as part of the offer. He shared direct messages with me of both young men, one of whom had been “strung along for days about a possible job,” and when they met at his hotel, Weaver demanded they engage in sexual intercourse. They did, it was consensual, but Weaver never made good on the job offer. Here is one of those messages shared with me:

Another other young man, who will remain anonymous, spoke to me and a journalist to whom I passed the story along. In his messages with Weaver, this young man said that Weaver reached out to him with the promise of a job opportunity. He told Weaver would condescendingly call him “my boy.”

Stories about Weaver along these lines aren’t new. According to The New Republic, Karl Rove alleged that Weaver made passes at young men back in 2000. At the time, Rove and Weaver were competitors to be the dominant consultant in Texas. Their professional feud allowed any allegations to be dismissed as a smear campaign by Rove.

Several other young men approached me throughout the summer with more allegations against Weaver. One young man, a junior in college, told me Weaver would start direct messaging him on Twitter, saying he could offer him an internship in Austin, Texas, or Washington, DC. The direct messages were persistent and led to them exchanging phone numbers and texting about the student’s professional ambitions.

Weaver ended up calling him after midnight during the student’s finals week, claiming he was away from his wife on a work trip. According to the student, Weaver had been drinking but continued to ask about his studies and career ambitions. Weaver abruptly changed topics and asked if he played sports and was athletic. The Lincoln Project co-founder followed up by asking about his height and weight. At this point, the student became uncomfortable and said when asked about his build, he said he was “about average.” Weaver responded, “oh my boy, I’m sure certain parts of you are well above average.”

The student told him he needed to study and abruptly ended the conversation. Weaver would call him later on that night and several times over the next few weeks, but the student blocked his number and his social media.

Over the summer, the story on Weaver’s predatory actions had multiple setbacks as victims dropped out, claiming they feared it would hurt their future job prospects. Without someone willing to go on record, the story was dead. Publications wouldn’t touch it because of fear that they’d be sued.

As the story was developing, Weaver was continuing his predation. At nine AM on May 26th 2020, Weaver messaged a 21-year-old man who just came off doing a media hit. Weaver said, “I love your voice [Redacted].” He responded, “thank you. I appreciate what the Lincoln Project is doing!” To which Weaver answered, “And I appreciate you, my boy.” Shortly after this exchange, Weaver blocked him from Twitter. He later interned for the Lincoln Project.

On Saturday night, I blew the door halfway open.

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens tweeted that they were constructing a database of Trump officials and staff and track where they ended up professionally so they could be “held accountable.”

It infuriated me enough that I responded by tweeting, “Maybe I should start talking about one of the founding members of the Lincoln Project offering jobs to young men in exchange for sex… his wife is probably interested.”

The tweet set off a firestorm of responses, including one by a young man named Josh Price who tweeted, “I am going to deflate all of the air out of this right now because Ryan is clearly taking joy in what happened to some of these people in order to attack his opponent. I know who did it because it happened to me. It was John Weaver.”

I never had the chance to speak to Price and verify his statement, but another account said he was friends with Josh when Weaver sexually harassed him.

Price deleted his tweet and set his account to private quickly afterward. He was being attacked by several people who were calling him a liar for making his claims. Quickly afterward, another account tweeted, “Weaver used to follow me when I used my real name on here. Out of the blue, he DM’d being push with personal questions and trying to flirt with me. After I didn’t go along with it, he unfollowed me and never DM’d me since.”

With claims starting to go public, Scott Stedman, an investigative journalist and author tweeted his encounter with Weaver. “I followed John Weaver when I started my Twitter account. We exchanged messages, I sent him my stories, chatted about Russia, etc. He wrote a blurb for my book. He offered me some sort of ‘joint venture’ which I wasn’t interested in, so I didn’t respond to his calls. One day, he DM’d me and said he had ‘advice.’ He then proceeded to tell me how “hot” I looked and commented on my profile picture and my hair. He started calling “my boy.” I found it deeply uncomfortable. Though we continued to DM every once in a while, the situation left me feeling quite uncomfortable. I brushed it off as one tends to do. I’m telling this story because I know there are more people who endured this kind of grooming with many more explicit details. As the Lincoln Project continues to grow financially, I felt compelled to share.”

Stedman provided screenshots of his exchange with Weaver, and RedState has now reported on these allegations.

The Lincoln Project is indeed continuing to grow financially, raising $4.8 million between November 24th and December 16th. Another member, Steve Schmidt’s company SES Strategies, was paid $1,500,000 for a month of work.

As they continue to grift and target private citizens who worked for the administration, it’s important to point out that one of their founding members was using their organization and the promise of a job in politics to prey on young men. The question remains, though, of how many other founding members knew about it and were complicit.