“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” said Mr. Trickle Miele, now 19. At the time, he supported the Republican Party and was a fan of Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor whom Mr. Weaver was helping prepare to join the presidential race.
But as the messages kept coming, he became uncomfortable.
In June 2018, Mr. Weaver asked, “Are you in HS still?” — referring to high school — and Mr. Trickle Miele said that he was, and that he would be 18 the next spring. “You look older,” Mr. Weaver replied. “You’ve gotten taller.”
In March 2020, when Mr. Trickle Miele was 18, Mr. Weaver wrote, “I want to come to Vegas and take you to dinner and drinks and spoil you!!,” and in a follow-up message used a term that in sexual banter refers to one’s body: “Hey my boy! resend me your stats! or I can guess! if that is easier or more fun!”
Mr. Weaver, in response to questions about specific allegations, reiterated his statement from earlier this month and said: “I am so disheartened and sad that I may have brought discomfort to anyone in what I thought at the time were mutually consensual discussions. In living a deeply closeted life, I allowed my pain to cause pain for others. For that I am truly sorry to these men and everyone and for letting so many people down.”
Mr. Weaver was one of a handful of veteran Republican operatives who formed the Lincoln Project because, they said, they considered Mr. Trump a danger to the country. With mocking ads that often went viral, the group became a highly visible opponent to the Trump presidency.
Mr. Schmidt said in an interview that the Lincoln Project did not have an office when Mr. Weaver was involved, so the founders and staff were not together. He said the group was “outraged and horrified” to learn of Mr. Weaver’s behavior.
Last year, when Cody Bralts was a recent college graduate looking for a job in politics, he replied to one of Mr. Weaver’s tweets and, to his surprise, received a direct message from him. After Mr. Weaver said he traveled to Chicago sometimes, they discussed meeting to talk politics; at one point Mr. Weaver asked what Mr. Bralts did in his free time.