The Lincoln Project disavowed its cofounder on Sunday after The New York Times interviewed 21 young men who alleged that he sent them sexually inappropriate messages, including one who was 14 years old at the time.
John Weaver, a Republican operative who worked on the campaigns of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, allegedly used his power and influence to pressure young men to perform sexual favors, according to a report broken by journalist Ryan Girdusky at The American Conservative.
Axios later picked up the story, prompting Weaver to issue a statement coming out as gay and acknowledging sending unsolicited and inappropriate messages to young men.
“For too long I have tried to live a life that wasn’t completely true, where I cleaved off an important part of myself in order to maintain what I thought was happiness and normalcy in the other part. I was lying [to] myself, to my family who gave me nothing but unconditional love, and to others, causing a great deal of pain to all,” Weaver said. “The truth is that I’m gay. And I have a wife and two kids who[m] I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”
He went on to blame Trump supporters for smearing him, writing, “While I am taking full responsibility for the inappropriate messages and conversations, I want to state clearly that the other smears being leveled at me by Donald Trump’s enablers as a way to get back at the Lincoln Project for our principled stand for democracy are categorically false and outrageous.”
The leaders of the anti-Trump group said only that “John’s statement speaks for itself” in response to the Axios story. On Sunday, however, they distanced themselves from Weaver after The New York Times published allegations from 21 young men, including Cole Trickle Miele, who claimed he was 14 years old when the private Twitter messages from Weaver started.
“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” Trickle Miele said.
The Lincoln Project said in their statement:
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.
The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely sickened by it. Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver. We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.
The Lincoln Project today released the following statement. pic.twitter.com/k9QkUsiFO5
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) January 31, 2021