The Never Trump group the Lincoln Project in a statement Thursday night agreed to a third-party review of the many allegations of misconduct with young men leveled against cofounder John Weaver and offered to release former employees who want to speak publicly about Weaver from their nondisclosure agreements.
The statement from the embattled political action committee, whose mission is to fight “Trumpism,” comes after a bombshell Associated Press report revealed on Thursday that two cofounders were formally made aware of Weaver’s conduct at least as early as last summer.
The statement also comes hours after two other cofounders, the outspoken Never Trumper and attorney George Conway and former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn, called for an independent investigation of the group.
Conway has said he had no awareness of the allegations against Weaver aside from “rumors” he had heard “well after the election” and Horn claims she was “shocked” and “horrified” by them.
Conway wrote in a statement online, “The Lincoln Project should hire an independent counsel to investigate these circumstances thoroughly and provide a full accounting of the facts to everyone who worked at the organization,” referencing an Intelligencer report released Thursday night that reiterated that cofounders had been aware of Weaver’s behavior and also detailed new accusations of misconduct.
Horn, who resigned from the group last week, added to Conway’s statement that she agreed with him:
This is an outrage. Every victim deserves to be heard.
I join George in calling for a full, independent investigation of John Weaver’s interactions with every member/staff/intern at the Lincoln Project.
Every one of these young men should be released to speak their truth. https://t.co/MQdvlPO9rB
— Jennifer Expel the Seditionists Horn (@NHJennifer) February 12, 2021
The revelations about Weaver first became public through a Twitter post in January from political consultant Ryan Girdusky, followed by several reports piling on new allegations. The allegations involved Weaver contacting young men, some teenagers — including one who was under 18 — who could potentially work for the Lincoln Project and sending them messages ranging from suggestive to sexually explicit.
In one instance, for example, Weaver told one man he would “spoil you when we see each other” and also wrote, “Help you other times. Give advice, counsel, help with bills. You help me … sensually.”
The Lincoln Project released an initial statement on January 31 in response to the reports of Weaver’s behavior, claiming he had “betrayed and deceived” its members.
However, after its initial statement, the Associated Press reported that a Lincoln Project employee sent an email in June 2020 to cofounder Ron Steslow, which was also shared with cofounder Reed Galen and legal counsel, “detailing numerous cases of sexual harassment involving Weaver.”
The Intelligencer further added upon its investigation that by the fall of 2020, the allegations against Weaver were an “open secret.”
Following these new details and the public calls for an audit from Conway and Horn, the group shifted course, claiming Thursday night in its announcement about an audit that although recent reports “are filled with inaccuracies, incorrect information, and reliant exclusively on anonymous sources,” there is a “central truth” to them:
The Lincoln Project today released the following statement. pic.twitter.com/pGl6WJCQhD
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) February 12, 2021
The group said it will use a “best-in-class outside professional to review Mr. Weaver’s tenure with the organization to establish both accountability and best practices going forward” and also agreed to release any former employees from nondisclosure agreements who believe they cannot publicly speak about Weaver because of such agreements.
As for Horn, who left the Lincoln Project on February 5 on negative terms, she released a lengthy statement Thursday night at the same time as the group’s announcement, affirming she was “genuinely shocked” by the allegations against Weaver and highlighting that her departure from the group was met with anger and skepticism by her colleagues, who accused her of attempting to financially benefit off the turmoil by demanding a signing bonus.
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.