- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2021

Late-night comedian Bill Maher declined to ask Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt just hours after Mr. Schmidt‘s resignation about the sex scandal that has rocked the anti-Trump Republican group.

Hours before his appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night, Mr. Schmidt announced he was stepping down from his position on the Lincoln Project board amid increasing scrutiny over the group’s handling of multiple allegations of inappropriate conduct by another founder, John Weaver. Mr. Weaver, who resigned from the group last year, is facing allegations of sexual misconduct with multiple young men and boys, including a 14-year-old.

The Lincoln Project said in a statement last month it was “shocked” to learn of the allegations, but The Associated Press reported the group was aware in June 2020 of at least 10 specific allegations of harassment, including by two employees. The group said it plans an external investigation into Mr. Weaver‘s conduct.

But none of that was discussed during Mr. Schimdt’s “Real Time” appearance.

Mr. Maher introduced Mr. Schmidt on his show as “founder of SES Strategies and an MSNBC contributor” without any mention of the Lincoln Project or his resignation earlier that day. (An MSNBC spokesperson later said Mr. Schmidt is no longer a contributor.)

Mr. Maher did, however, address the Lincoln Project’s efficacy in politics, noting that Mr. Trump actually did better with Republicans in 2020 than in 2016.

“Why did he do 6% better with Republicans than in 2016? He got 94% of Republican votes and 88% the first time,” Mr. Maher asked.

“We were trying to win the election,” Mr. Schmidt answered. “I really didn’t give a [expletive] how many Republicans were voting for Trump or not.”

Mr. Maher asked, “And all the money went toward where it should?”

Mr. Schmidt replied, “Out of $87 million that was raised by the Lincoln Project, about $63-$66 million of that money went into voter-contact programs.”

He added that the group did not disclose payments to subcontractors, “which is how you protect your staff and all sorts of vendors from the harassment of the Trump people.”

“Campaigns cost a lot of money,” he said. “All of this stuff, every super PAC operates like this. And the Lincoln Project did it for a specific reason.”

In his resignation announcement earlier Friday, Mr. Schmidt said he was sexually assaulted as a teenager and was “incandescently angry” about the allegations against Mr. Weaver. He also apologized to another co-founder, Jennifer Horn, for tweeting her private correspondence with a reporter.

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