By STEVE PEOPLES
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Lincoln Project, one of the best-known and best-funded organizations in the so-called Never Trump movement, announced plans late Thursday to launch an external investigation to review the tenure of a co-founder accused of sexual harassment.
The announcement came hours after The Associated Press reported that members of the organization’s leadership were informed in writing and in subsequent phone calls of at least 10 specific allegations of sexual harassment against co-founder John Weaver, including two involving Lincoln Project employees. The revelations raised questions about the Lincoln Project’s statement last month that it was “shocked” when accusations surfaced publicly this year.
In a statement released Thursday evening, the organization announced that its board had decided to retain “a best-in-class outside professional” to review Weaver’s tenure “to establish both accountability and best practices going forward for The Lincoln Project.”
The organization also encouraged anyone bound by a nondisclosure agreement to contact the Lincoln Project “for a release.”
The situation threatens the stature of not just the Lincoln Project but also the broader coalition of establishment-oriented Republican groups working to excise Trump from the party.
Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt insisted Wednesday night that he and the rest of the group’s leadership were not aware of any internal allegations of wrongdoing involving Weaver.
“The Lincoln Project believes the members of our movement and the victims of John Weaver’s despicable and deceptive behavior are owed the facts, and you will have them,” the organization said in a written statement Thursday night. “John Weaver betrayed all of us and you deserve the facts presented independently through a transparent process.”
Weaver declined to comment for the AP’s earlier story, but in a statement released late last month to Axios, he generally acknowledged misconduct and apologized.
“To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry,” he wrote. “They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.”