Oh, the irony. Remember when critics of Donald Trump insisted that his overuse of non-disclosure agreements to keep former employees silent was a sign of his corruption? Looks like his critics might have learned a trick or two from the master:
Leaders of the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump media venture, came under fire on Thursday night from six former workers demanding to be released from nondisclosure agreements in order to talk about John Weaver, a co-founder who harassed young men online. The leaders were also criticized by journalists and others after the group, without authorization, posted screenshots of another co-founder’s private Twitter messages with a reporter.
For their part, the Lincoln Project’s top officials, who have been on the defensive for days over Mr. Weaver, said on Thursday night that they were hiring an outside investigator to review his tenure with the organization. …
The six former employees and associates called on the Lincoln Project to waive nondisclosure agreements, writing in an open letter — which was provided to The New York Times — that they wanted to be allowed to disclose information “that would aid the press, public and our donors in answering questions relevant to the public interest.”
Indeed it would — but that’s what NDAs are designed to prevent. Right now, the public has taken a large if belated interest in the inner workings of the Lincoln Project, especially to find out where the money went. The “top officials” who apparently were the main beneficiaries of that money have every incentive to keep these people silent. And that’s not even accounting for the Weaver scandal, and who knew about it and when.
The Lincoln Project put out a statement advising former employees to contact them individually about getting releases from their NDAs. No way, they replied:
They cited comments that Steve Schmidt, another co-founder, had made about Jennifer Horn, a former partner and co-founder, and Mr. Schmidt’s repeated denials that he had any knowledge of Mr. Weaver’s actions before last month.
“Expecting victims and those close to victims to contact and engage the people and organization accused of protecting the very predator at issue is absurd, unreasonable and insensitive,” the former employees wrote in the letter.
That response might also have something to do with a ham-handed attempt at retaliation from the Lincoln Project yesterday. They posted screenshots of private messages on Twitter (DMs) between Horn and a reporter, which might be evidence of an illegal intrusion on Horn’s social-media account. They took it down, but not before co-founder Rick Wilson appeared to brag about the potential intrusion and retaliation on Twitter:
Well there goes your "We were hacked" excuse pic.twitter.com/OmhiAuixKc
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) February 12, 2021
He heard Jennifer Horn's Twitter password? pic.twitter.com/ie99OTqxP8
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) February 12, 2021
Go figure that these former employees don’t exactly feel safe and secure in their dealings with The Lincoln Project. At this rate, the founders of this super-PAC had better hope that law enforcement doesn’t render those NDAs moot by opening criminal probes that will allow these employees to speak freely, if not initially in public. Wonderful things, subpoenas.
In the meantime, let this serve as a reminder of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous warning: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Welcome to the abyss, Lincoln Project.
Update: Looks like time might have run out for TLP’s NDAs after all. Yashar Ali reports that the FBI has opened an investigation into Weaver and the group over potential sexual predation of underaged victims:
The FBI is investigating allegations against longtime GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver, according to two sources who said they were contacted by FBI agents. Those sources told me the agents inquired whether Weaver ever touched them inappropriately or sent or requested sexually explicit material when they were underage.
The FBI asking potential witnesses about allegations of illegal conduct does not necessarily mean that someone is the subject or a target of a federal investigation. It’s also unclear what the scope of the FBI’s inquiry is; the sources who spoke to me said the questions they were asked were narrow in scope.
Weaver, a Republican strategist who helped form the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, has been accused by dozens of men of behaving inappropriately toward them. So far, the stories that have been shared publicly focus on men who accuse Weaver of online harassment and promising employment opportunities in exchange for sex.
That doesn’t mean that the questions will remain narrow in scope, however.