21 men have accused Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver of “online harassment,” according to The New York Times.
The outlet’s reporting follows a host of allegations of Weaver “grooming young men” on Twitter.
“John Weaver, a longtime Republican strategist and co-founder of the prominent anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project, has for years sent unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online to young men, often while suggesting he could help them get work in politics, according to interviews with 21 men who received them,” the Times describes.
Weaver’s “solicitations included sending messages to a 14-year-old, asking questions about his body while he was still in high school and then more pointed ones after he turned 18.”
The Times describes Weaver’s aforementioned interaction at length:
Cole Trickle Miele was 14 when he followed Mr. Weaver on Twitter in 2015 and quickly received a direct message from him. At first, he did not think anything was amiss.
“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” said Mr. Trickle Miele, now 19. At the time, he supported the Republican Party and was a fan of Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor whom Mr. Weaver was helping prepare to join the presidential race.
But as the messages kept coming, he became uncomfortable.
In June 2018, Mr. Weaver asked, “Are you in HS still?” — referring to high school — and Mr. Trickle Miele said that he was, and that he would be 18 the next spring. “You look older,” Mr. Weaver replied. “You’ve gotten taller.” In March 2020, when Mr. Trickle Miele was 18, Mr. Weaver wrote, “I want to come to Vegas and take you to dinner and drinks and spoil you!!,” and in a follow-up message used a term that in sexual banter refers to one’s body: “Hey my boy! resend me your stats! or I can guess! if that is easier or more fun!”
The paper also conducted “interviews with the 21 young men, as well as a review of screenshots of dozens of messages he sent them over the last five years,” concluding they “show that his online behavior was in many cases aggressive and unwanted.”
One individual, Cody Bralts, felt as if Weaver was “exploiting his power”:
“Last year, when Cody Bralts was a recent college graduate looking for a job in politics, he replied to one of Mr. Weaver’s tweets and, to his surprise, received a direct message from him. After Mr. Weaver said he traveled to Chicago sometimes, they discussed meeting to talk politics; at one point Mr. Weaver asked what Mr. Bralts did in his free time.
When Mr. Bralts said he ran marathons, Mr. Weaver replied, “At least I know that whatever we end up doing, you could do it multiple times in a row,” with a winking emoticon.
“It just seemed like he was exploiting his power,” Mr. Bralts said. “He was someone very important and high up in a field I want to go into.”
Kyle Allen noted that in his discussion with Weaver, the Lincoln Project co-founder “would always find a way to bring it back to sexual stuff.”
“Kyle Allen, 23, said that from 2016 to 2018, Mr. Weaver asked about his height, weight, what he was wearing and whether he was circumcised. He also pushed repeatedly for an invitation to speak at the University of Ottawa, where Mr. Allen was studying, using sexually explicit language to express his eagerness to visit.
“I would try to veer the conversations toward politics, and he would always find a way to bring it back to sexual stuff,” Mr. Allen said.
And Anthony Covell revealed that Weaver asked him to “post a thirst trap” or “send me a pic”:
One of those men, Anthony Covell, 22, said Mr. Weaver had begun messaging him in July 2019. That exchange petered out, but on Dec. 3, 2019 — two weeks before the Lincoln Project was publicly announced — Mr. Weaver invited him to join the new initiative.
“He said he was looking for young people who were creative and invested in this upcoming election,” Mr. Covell said, adding, “I was obviously interested.”
Mr. Weaver suggested that Mr. Covell “post a thirst trap” or “send me a pic,” then asked him to call for more details on the project. “Something inside me was saying, ‘No, don’t do this, he seems kind of sketchy,’” Mr. Covell said.
He decided not to call.