Anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project has hemorrhaged support in recent weeks after more than 20 men accused its co-founder John Weaver of sexual harassment in January.
While some on the left have praised its leaders for a principled stand against their former party, liberals and conservatives alike have criticized the group over its tactics and motives. Some, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have labeled it a scam PAC due to its funneling of liberal donor money to vendors controlled by the group’s founders and an overall lack of return on investment.
Its primary co-founders are lawyer George Conway, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, political strategist Rick Wilson and Weaver, a political consultant who worked on the late John McCain’s presidential campaigns. Now Conway, Schmidt and Wilson are facing questions about what they knew about Weaver’s behavior and when.
Here’s a timeline of the Lincoln Project:
Dec. 17, 2019
Co-founders Conway, Schmidt, Weaver and Wilson penned an op-ed in The New York Times announcing their political action committee on Dec. 17, 2019.
“Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character,” they wrote.
Other co-founders include Jennifer Horn, former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party; Ron Steslow, a political strategist; Reed Galen, an alum of George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns; and Mike Madrid, a political strategist.
April 15, 2020
The Lincoln Project advisory board (Conway, Schmidt, Weaver and Galen) endorsed President Biden in the Democratic primary on April 15, 2020.
“When we founded the Lincoln Project, we did so with a clear mission: to defeat President Trump in November,” they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Publicly supporting a Democratic nominee for president is a first for all of us. We are in extraordinary times, and we have chosen to put country over party — and former vice president Joe Biden is the candidate who we believe will do the same.”
May 28, 2020
Romney 2012 presidential campaign alum Stuart Stevens joined the Lincoln Project as an adviser on May 28, 2020.
“It’s a small tribe,” Stevens told the Washington Post. “I don’t know George Conway at all. Our paths never crossed. … But this core group is mainly people I’ve known one way or another for a long time.”
Wilson confirmed after the fact that the organization was aware in July that the New York Post was looking into Weaver.
“In July of last year, there were rumors that the New York Post was going to report out a story about John being up in guys’ [direct messages],” Wilson said on the podcast. “And we heard about it because the Trump campaign was bragging about it, bragging that it was coming.”
Aug. 6, 2020
The Lincoln Project said Weaver was having health issues on Aug. 6, 2020.
“We have just learned that Lincoln Project warrior, [John Weaver], has been admitted to the hospital after a cardiac problem. We ask that you please lift up our friend and brother John and his family in prayer,” the Lincoln Project wrote on its Twitter account on Aug. 6.
Weaver went on medical leave in the summer of 2020 — around the time other members of the Lincoln Project became aware that journalists were looking into his inappropriate online behavior.
Aug. 23, 2020
George Conway announced he was leaving the Lincoln Project on Aug. 23, 2020, as drama between his wife, Kellyanne Conway, and daughter, Claudia Conway, played out on social media.
“So I’m withdrawing from @ProjectLincoln to devote more time to family matters. And I’ll be taking a Twitter hiatus. Needless to say, I continue to support the Lincoln Project and its mission. Passionately,” he wrote on Twitter.
Aug. 24, 2020
Michael Steele, the first Black chairman of the Republican National Committee, joined the Lincoln Project on Aug. 24, 2020.
Jan. 11, 2021
Author Ryan Girdusky published an article titled “The Lincoln Project’s Predator” detailing Weaver’s inappropriate messages to young men on Jan. 11. One young man, a college student, said he had an uncomfortable phone call with Weaver, who he said was dropping sexual innuendoes and appeared to be drinking.
Jan. 15, 2021
A few days later, Weaver’s apology appeared in an Axios story.
“To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry,” Weaver said in a statement. “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.”
Jan. 31, 2021
The New York Times published a story on Jan. 31 reporting that Weaver has been accused of harassment by 21 men, including an alleged victim who was a minor when Weaver first made contact with him. The Lincoln Project disavowed Weaver shortly after.
“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,” the Lincoln Project said in a statement. “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.”
Feb. 5, 2021
Horn told The New York Times on Feb. 5 that she was leaving The Lincoln Project after Weaver’s “grotesque and inappropriate behavior.” The Lincoln Project countered by claiming Horn resigned after the organization’s board rejected her demands that included a $40,000-per-month consulting contract and her own staff.
Days later, Schmidt resigned, claiming he did so to “make room for the appointment of a female board member as the first step to reform and professionalize the Lincoln Project.”
Feb. 15, 2021
The Lincoln Project said that it will be moving forward with its work while it deals with allegations of sexual harassment against Weaver. The anti-Trump political action committee said Monday night that it hired the law firm Paul Hastings to investigate the claims.
“The Lincoln Project will continue producing and distributing our popular content and commentary while these reviews are being conducted and we are operating at full capacity,” the group said in a statement.
Feb. 16, 2021
The Daily Beast dropped co-founder Wilson from its “The New Abnormal” podcast amid the Weaver fallout on Tuesday.
Wilson’s co-host, pundit Molly Jong-Fast, made the announcement at the top of the show on Tuesday. Jong-Fast was an unpaid adviser to the Lincoln Project and said she had resigned from that post as well in yet another departure from the embattled political action committee.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran, Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Ronn Blitzer and David Rutz contributed to this report.