Tucker Carlson isn’t the only voice taking the Lincoln Project to task. Liberal talking head and “Real Time” host Bill Maher grilled Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt in his show on Friday night, asking the #NeverTrump leader what happened to the millions of dollars donated to the outfit following the organization’s ongoing dissolution.
On Friday evening, Schmidt took to Twitter to condemn the organization’s co-founder John Weaver in a series of tweets, pleading innocence over his role in keeping Weaver’s alleged grooming of young boys on the down-low by sharing his personal experience with an abusive Boy Scout counselor. Weaver had reportedly sent unsolicited sexual messages to numerous young men, including a 14-year-old boy. Weaver largely confessed to his behavior.
Lincoln Project produced numerous strike ads against the Trump campaign in the run-up to the elections last year, aiming their efforts at moderate Republicans. The Daily Beast reports that their efforts had abysmal results, as Trump garnered millions more voters in 2020 than he did in 2016. All in all, the group managed to raise around $90 million, $50 of which went to the group’s leaders according to the Associated Press.
Following Schmidt’s tweets, Maher invited him onto his HBO show, where he grilled the Lincoln Project co-founder.
“I’m not here to prosecute you,” Maher said. “AOC said Lincoln Project—that’s your project, which ran a lot of great ads… she said you were in ‘scam territory.’ I don’t know. I liked the ads.”
“I think we built the most successful super PAC in American political history. We turned it into a movement, and I think we did tremendous damage to Donald Trump,” Schmidt replied.
“If that’s true, why did he do 6 percentage points better with Republicans than in 2016? He got 94 percent of Republican votes and 88 percent the first time,” Maher retorted.
“I think that, you know, sometimes they say things at the beginning and they take on the aura of gospel. We were trying to win the election. I really didn’t give a s**t how many Republicans were voting for Trump or not,” said Schmidt, explaining that the group spent “$63-66 million of that money went into voter-contact programs” of the $87 million it reportedly received in donations.
Schmidt declined to elaborate on what those “voter-contact programs” were, and refused to provide further details to Maher, who asked him where the rest of the money went. Schmidt said that the organization did not disclose subcontractor payments to “protect” staff and vendors from “harassment” from the Trump campaign.
Ironically, the Lincoln Project spearheaded the creation of a “list” of Trump appointees, staffers, and backers to ensure that their support of the former president would haunt them for the rest of their days.
Stuart Stevens, a senior advisor the Lincoln Project tweeted in January that “we are constructing a database of Trump officials & staff that will detail their roles in the Trump administration & track where they are now.”
“No personal info, only professional. But they will be held accountable & not allowed to pretend they were not involved,” he said.