Law firm concludes Lincoln Project didn’t know John Weaver was soliciting ‘underage individuals’

You may recall that earlier this year the Lincoln Project hired an outside law firm (one whose independence is open to question) to investigate what the group’s founders knew about sexual harassment by co-founder John Weaver. Today, Mediate reports the verdict is in. You’ll be shocked to learn that the law firm found no evidence that anyone at Lincoln Project knew anything at all about Weaver’s inappropriate behavior, well sort of…

Mediaite has obtained a memo written by Lincoln Project adviser Tara Setmayer and executive director Fred Wellman, two of the three members of a “Transition Advisory Board” appointed to coordinate with the investigation. The memo, set to go out to donors on Tuesday afternoon, summarized the findings of the investigation conducted by the law firm of Paul Hastings, LLP.

According to the memo, the investigation “found no evidence that anyone at The Lincoln Project was aware of any inappropriate communications with any underage individuals at any time prior to the publication of those news reports.”

“Additionally, the investigation found no communications nor conduct reported to The Lincoln Project or its leadership involving Mr. Weaver and any employee, contractor, or volunteer that would rise to the level of actionable sexual harassment,” the memo added.

You can read the full memo for yourself here. As Mediaite notes, the claim that the Lincoln Project didn’t have anything that rose to the level of “actionable sexual harassment” is oddly specific. Also note that the memo says no one knew about Weaver’s communications with “underage individuals.” That seems to leave a lot of wiggle room, i.e. they knew about inappropriate communications with adults, maybe, but decided it wasn’t “actionable.”

In any case, this conclusion flies in the face of the report published in February by The 19th. As I noted at the time, that report said members of the group had known about Weaver’s behavior for months:

Sources familiar with internal communications said that in June, multiple members of the Lincoln Project’s senior leadership team were told in conversations and in writing about allegations that Weaver had sexually harassed young men, including some who were working for the organization.

By August, nearly all of the co-founders still with the project were aware and a media plan was being crafted after the group’s employees and contractors were contacted by a news outlet working on a story about the allegations. By the time staff gathered in Park City for the buildup to the election, the accusations were an open secret even among junior staff, sources said.

The first allegations were published in January, first in the American Conservative and later in other publications, including The New York Times. Schmidt told The Times that senior management was not aware until that month. Schmidt’s timeline conflicts with that offered by more than a dozen sources who worked within and as contractors for the group at various times.

So, the 19th reports senior leaders knew Weaver was harassing “young men” and the law firm memo says no one knew he was harassing “underage individuals.” John Weaver was 61-years-old last year. Many of the men he was communicating with were in their early 20s and one was a teenager. In all, Weaver has been accused of harassment by at least 21 men. But it seems the line the Lincoln Project’s law firm is drawing here is that no one knew Weaver was harassing anyone under 18 and therefore there was nothing they could do.

One day after the report above was published, The 19th published a follow up which said some members of the Lincoln Project knew about Weaver’s behavior three months earlier, i.e. in March of 2020.

Some of the leaders of the embattled Lincoln Project knew about sexual harassment allegations against co-founder John Weaver as early as March, multiple sources, including the group’s former executive director, told The 19th late Monday…

Multiple individuals began coming forward late Monday to discuss the allegations related to Weaver, and the timeline on which other senior management knew about them, after the group confirmed that a nondisclosure release applied to its current and former contractors, vendors and employees…

Some of the individuals came forward with new details on Monday after they were released from their nondisclosure agreements. Several said Sarah Lenti, a managing partner with the group who was previously its executive director, knew about the allegations against Weaver as early as May 2020. Lenti confirmed that some of the group’s co-founders knew about the allegations as early as March 2020. Schmidt and Galen were among those who knew, multiple sources said.

It’s pretty difficult to square this circle. The group’s former executive director said Schmidt and Galen knew about Weaver’s behavior but as of today the law firm hired by the Lincoln Project is backing Schmidt’s claim that, like Sgt. Schultz, he knew nothing, at least nothing “actionable.” It’s not clear if we’ll get to see the evidence this memo is based on or if the Lincoln Project will sit on the full report and just go back to collecting money.

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