11:03 GMT26 February 2021
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    Donald Trump was a political outsider in the 2016 US presidential election, and many Republicans refused to accept him as one of their own, dubbing themselves "never-Trump" Republicans. When he sought re-election in 2020, the group rallied in support of his Democratic challenger, now the US president, Joe Biden.

    An increasing number of senior figures in the never-Trump political action committee The Lincoln Project (TLP) have announced they are leaving, with three people saying Friday they were calling it quits in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving co-founder John Weaver.

    "I've always been transparent about all my affiliations, as I am now: I told TLP leadership yesterday that I'm stepping down as an unpaid adviser as they sort this out and decide their future direction and organization," Tom Nichols, a “never-Trump” Republican who supported the group’s effort to rally conservative support for US President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, tweeted on Friday afternoon.

    Nichols was joined by another adviser, Kurt Bardella and by Nayyera Haq, who hosted the PAC’s online show “The Lincoln Report.”

    Late on Friday, Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt reportedly announced his resignation following accusations from PAC employees that he handled the harassment scandal poorly, according to the Daily Beast.

    Last month, accusations by victims of Weaver began to pour in, with nearly two dozen accusers saying he had sent them unsolicited sexual messages; some were as young as 14 at the time of the solicitations.

    Weaver admitted to the acts and apologized for making the victims “uncomfortable,” claiming he believed the sexual messages to be consensual. The Lincoln Project also issued a statement claiming ignorance and attempting to distance itself from Weaver, prompting new accusations that the group was well aware of Weaver’s activities.

    On Thursday, the Associated Press published a damning expose vindicating those coverup claims, citing TLP members with direct knowledge of a situation in June 2020 involving two other members of the PAC.

    That same day, TLP published what appeared to be confidential Twitter messages between The 19th journalist, Amanda Becker, and Jennifer Horn, a co-founder of TLP who quit last week in disgust. Horn said she did not give the group permission to publish her private messages, and TLP deleted the tweets moments after George Conway, a lawyer and former TLP member, suggested the move was in violation of federal law.

    "We’re not going to be bullied or intimidated out of pursuing critical journalism," Emily Ramshaw, a journalist and CEO of The 19th, said in response to the TLP tweet.

    Related:

    Anti-Trump PAC Lincoln Project Co-Founder Admits Allegations of 'Inappropriate' Messages to Men
    Never-Trumper PAC Lincoln Project Parodies Trump Farewell Note to Biden
    Lincoln Project Co-Founder Quits Over Gay Sex Pest Claims Against Fellow 'Never-Trumper'
    Tags:
    scandal, Republicans, Never Trump, project, Abraham Lincoln
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