A co-founder for the Lincoln Project met with then-GOP contender Donald Trump in 2016 in an attempt to join his campaign but he was rebuffed by the future president as a “total idiot.”
Steve Schmidt, who launched the anti-Trump organization last year with four other Republicans disgruntled with Trump, met with the future president in Manhattan, according to knowledgeable sources who spoke to the New York Post.
However, the long-time GOP operative who is known best for his work on the late Sen. John McCain’s unsuccessful presidential bid before he joined the “Never Trump” movement didn’t land a job because the then-real estate mogul believed he was a “total idiot,” one source told the Post.
Ten days after the March 2016 meeting which took place at Trump Tower, the future president hired Paul Manafort has the chairman of his campaign, later promoting him to campaign manager.
Two years later during an interview with PRWeek, Schmidt recounted the Trump Tower meeting as unremarkable except to say he saw it as an opportunity to “see what he was about,” comparing it to a chance to witness a UFO in Central Park.
“But sources familiar with the meeting said Schmidt spent the entire encounter presenting what he thought the outsider candidate needed to do to win the election and was reportedly gunning for the campaign chief role, which Corey Lewandowski was fired from three months later,” the Post reported.
Citing one source, the paper said the 49-year-old Schmidt believed the future president was “the best candidate he had ever seen,” adding the campaign and the GOP operative had exchanged emails prior to the meeting.
However, the president was reportedly turned off by Schmidt and believed that his ideas were bad, adding that he left the meeting feeling that the political operative and PR exec was “very untrustworthy” and a “total idiot,” one source said, according to the Post.
“The president was very turned off by the fact that Schmidt had turned on McCain, his former boss, for the money,” the source claimed, a reference to Schmidt’s decision to rip McCain’s 2008 bid — a campaign he had run — during a long interview for the book “Game Change,” which was turned into a film.
In December, the Lincoln Project co-founders (Schmidt, along with Rick Wilson, John Weaver, Jennifer Horn, and George Conway, husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway) blasted Trump as a “bogus prophet” in a New York Times editorial, as the group launched.
Since then, the group has produced a series of campaign ads attacking the president while raking in some $20 million in donations.
For his part, Schmidt has been on a tear against Trump. In February during a pre-pandemic appearance on MSNBC, he called supporters of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders “vile” and warned that if Democrats nominated him as their presidential candidate, it would guarantee the president’s reelection.
“When we talk about vile online supporters and breaking promises and shattering norms and being untransparent, remind you of anyone?” Schmidt charged. “And that’s a big problem for Democrats. What I would say about all of this is we all sat here in this room on election night and we were shocked. The world was shocked when Donald Trump was elected.”
More recently, the Lincoln Project itself has run into problems.
Earlier this month, reports noted that the organization has paid out more than $2 million to firms owned by some of its co-founders, leading allegations that they are using donations to self-enrich.
And last week, reports said that Weaver registered last year as a Russian foreign agent on behalf of uranium conglomerate TENEX, which is connected to Rosatom, the uranium corporation that managed to obtain a sizable portion of the United States’ reserves of the strategically important mineral during then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure.
Weaver also reportedly has an outstanding federal tax lien against an Austin, Texas home in the amount of $313,65, while Wilson has a $389,420 federal tax lien against his Tallahassee, Fla., home, the Post noted.
It isn’t as though the organization’s founders aren’t making money. An analysis of the group’s expenditures found that nearly 90 percent went to ‘operating expenses’ including salaries, some charged.
So 90% of the money raised for that sham Lincoln Project went to “operating expenditures” (salaries for the worthless Never Trumpers like Rick Wilson). Astounding. https://t.co/o9Gk27Vt4J
— Eddie Scarry (@eScarry) July 14, 2020
“It’s very clear that this isn’t about Trump and Republicans,” a GOP source told the New York Post in a separate report. “It’s about making money to help pay off their massive personal debts.”
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