Opinion/Analysis: President Biden may pick Cindy McCain to be ambassador to the UK, but Cindy's pill-swiping past, and revelations about Sen. McCain's ex-adviser John Weaver, could prove problematic.
Seated on a royal blue couch in her $3 million home in Phoenix’s tony North Central Corridor during a recent interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” Cindy Lou Hensley McCain might as well have been auditioning for the role of ambassador to the United Kingdom, a post some think she’s up for in the Biden administration.
Correspondent Lee Cowan pitched a series of softball questions during the segment. At one point, he asked Sen. John McCain’s widow if she’d accept a position in the new administration.
“I want to do whatever the president wants me to do,” she told Cowan. “If he comes back and suggests, ‘Look, we need you here, I want you to do something,’ of course I would. You can’t turn down, you know, when a president . . . says to you, ‘We need you.'”
The idea is hardly farfetched. Sen. John McCain’s widow crossed party lines in 2020 to endorse Democrat Biden over Trump in the general election, making her a hero in Democrats’ eyes, especially when Biden squeezed out a razor-thin win in Cindy’s home state of Arizona.
Then, in January, the looney-tunes AZ GOP sought fit to censure her for endorsing Biden, boosting her clout to exponential levels in blue circles.
Okay, but ambassador to the UK? Something further down the food chain might be more appropriate. Micronesia or Liechtenstein, perhaps?
Still, should Biden decide to reward Mrs. McCain with an ambassadorship or some other job, a number of imbroglios involving the late Sen. McCain and his wife could crop up, raising questions that Cindy normally eludes in encounters with establishment media.
Cindy McCain looks at the future of the Republican Party: "We have got to overcome this" https://t.co/toiMQPqOkq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 22, 2021
John and Cindy McCain have long been magnets for scandal and controversy, from Cindy McCain’s feeding of her opioid habit with pills swiped from a non-profit meant to aid sick children, to the illicit origins of her dad’s beer fortune, to the false claims about sex trafficking that she’s peddled to the detriment of sex workers and trafficking victims alike.
Even as she pimps her soon-to-be-published memoir about life with her late husband and looks forward to Sen. McCain receiving the Hollywood treatment in a feature film she will executive produce, skeletons from the McCains’ past keep cropping up, reminding the skeptical that John McCain’s halo is made of brass.
The latest from the boneyard: Reports concerning Lincoln Project co-founder, longtime adviser to Sen. McCain and alleged sexual “predator” John Weaver.
Most news articles detailing the downfall of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and the allegations of sexual misconduct against veteran GOP operative John Weaver have mentioned Weaver’s ties to John McCain.
Often these articles feature photos of Sen. McCain with Weaver, a top adviser to McCain for a decade, who ran McCain’s unsuccessful 2000 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination and worked on the senator’s second unsuccessful run in the 2008 cycle (though he left the campaign in July 2007).
John Weaver, a GOP strategist and Lincoln Project co-founder, has for years sent unsolicited and sexually provocative messages to young men, often while suggesting he could help them work in politics, according to interviews with 21 men who received them.https://t.co/pUe961l7qX
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 31, 2021
One black-and-white photo from 2001 online at Alamy.com shows Cindy laughing, in the backseat of a car, with her husband to her left and Weaver to her right.
Granted, Weaver worked for other politicians, notably for Republicans Jon Huntsman and John Kasich during their respective presidential forays, but he is closely associated with Sen. McCain, in no small part because Weaver was the mastermind behind McCain’s breakout 2000 primary win in New Hampshire with its storied “Straight Talk Express” campaign bus.
READ: “Mother McCain Meltdown: Cindy Comes Clean on Jeffrey Epstein,” an Opinion Column by Michael Lacey
In late 2019, Weaver reportedly formed the Lincoln Project along with a handful of other never-Trumpers, including ex-McCain campaign muck-a-mucks such as Steve Schmidt. Their objective: to prevent America’s Orange Caligula from being re-elected. To this end, they produced a number of biting anti-Trump ads and raised $90 million in the process.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 16, 2021
In January, bombshell allegations of sexual harassment hit the Lincoln Project, with young men coming forward to share stories of being sexually propositioned by Weaver, who allegedly offered to help their careers.
The New York Times reported that more than 20 men accused Weaver of impropriety, and that Weaver’s “solicitations” also involved “sending messages to a 14-year-old, asking questions about his body” and “more pointed ones after he turned 18.”
In a statement to Axios, Weaver, who has a wife and two children, came out as gay and apologized for sending “inappropriate” messages to young men, while insisting that some of the allegations were “categorically false.” He also formally quit the Lincoln Project.
New York Magazine’s “Intelligencer” section quoted one of these inappropriate messages from Weaver to a future Lincoln Project intern as saying: “On [your] walk, think about worshipping a big cock and having yours worshipped and you rimmed till you beg!”
The Lincoln Project released a statement denouncing Weaver as “a predator, a liar, and an abuser.” Then the finger-pointing and the resignations began. The AP reported that some Lincoln Project leaders had been notified as early as June 2020 of the accusations against Weaver, though Schmidt denied this.
1. I've been very hesitant to comment but since my deceased father keeps getting invoked I will say this:
John Weaver and Steve Schmidt were so despised by my Dad he made it a point to ban them from his funeral. Since 2008, no McCain would have spit on them if they were on fire.
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 13, 2021
The AP also reported that only about one-third of the organization’s $90 million haul went to commercials, with the “vast majority of the cash” being “split among consulting firms controlled by its founders.”
By mid-February, co-founder George Conway, husband of former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, was calling for the group to be shut down.
Around the same time, the organization issued a statement, saying that it had retained a law firm “to investigate allegations of inappropriate behavior by John Weaver as part of a comprehensive review of our operations and culture.”
Neither Cindy McCain, nor Meghan McCain, Cindy’s outspoken daughter and co-host of ABC’s The View, were part of the Lincoln Project, though the organization did tweet out Cindy’s endorsement of Biden. And they all shared a dislike of Trump.
Nevertheless, in a February 12 tweet thread, Meghan stated that “since my deceased father keeps getting invoked” in regards to the Lincoln Project’s woes, she felt the need to speak out.
For years, Cindy McCain warned of dangerous men coming to enslave American women and girls. Now Trump is running with it. https://t.co/Y3aqtJpnO8
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) June 25, 2019
“John Weaver and Steve Schmidt were so despised by my Dad he made it a point to ban them from his funeral,” she wrote. “Since 2008, no McCain would have spit on them if they were on fire.”
Meghan added, “My heart goes out to the victims of John Weaver.”
She seemed especially annoyed by the link to her dad’s name:
“What disgusts me so much is that anyone who would engage in such awful and potentially illegal behavior would use their media associations with my father to gain opportunities. My dad was betrayed by you, hated you for it, and we all know it.”
Meghan did not elaborate, but she may have been alluding to statements Weaver made to reporters after his departure from the McCain camp in 2007.
Weaver was a named source for both The New York Times and The Washington Post in articles from 2008 questioning McCain’s ties to a female lobbyist.
Both Sen. McCain and the lobbyist publicly denied anything untoward.
Interestingly, in the 2010 political tell-all Game Change, authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann wrote that Weaver, while still with McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007, suspected that a “rumor” about Cindy having a “long-term boyfriend” was “rooted in the truth.”
Weaver pushed McCain to confront Cindy about the boyfriend rumor, the book says, and McCain did. Cindy denied the rumor, according to the authors.
Game Change identified Weaver as one of McCain’s “chief political advisers.”
Indeed, in 2008, reporter Evan Thomas, writing for Newsweek, described how “McCain was extremely close to John Weaver,” relating that one of Weaver’s jobs was “combing McCain’s hair,” as McCain could only lift his arms so high as a result of the torture he endured in Vietnam.
The feeling was mutual.
“Love is not too strong of a word for what Weaver felt for McCain,” writes Thomas.
Back in 2000, Cindy evidently thought highly of Weaver, too.The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank quoted her saying of Weaver that whenever attacks are “lobbed at my husband” Weaver “takes it just as if it were him.”
In a Feb. 13 piece, Washington Post reporter Roxanne Roberts wrote that the news about Weaver was “a shock in elite political circles,” and that, “Even those who thought they knew Weaver well were floored to discover his sexual orientation and that he had been approaching young men for years.”
That opinion was not universal. Journalist Ryan Girdusky, who exposed Weaver’s predatory behavior in a Jan. 11 piece for The American Conservative, told Hill.TV’s “Rising” show in early February that Weaver’s behavior was “not a well-kept secret.”
He said he spoke to “more than 30” accusers for his story, opining that “it was very much in plain sight for everyone to see.”
"Epstein was hiding in plain sight. We all knew about him. We all knew what he was doing. They were afraid of him. For whatever reason, they were afraid of him.""
Cindy McCain says "we all knew" about Jeffrey Epstein.https://t.co/OUShBbKZVL
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 24, 2020
Girdusky made similar comments on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” where he said everyone knew about Weaver “except, apparently, the people who worked at The Lincoln Project.”
And in a recent appearance on Fox News’ “The Story With Martha MacCallum,” Karl Rove, who long ago vied with Weaver to be the top campaign consultant in Texas, told MacCallum that he had “known about this pattern of behavior since 1988.”
According to a 2004 Atlantic story by Joshua Green, in the 1980s, “Rove spread a rumor that Weaver had made a pass at a young man at a state Republican function.”
That’s a tale that’s been repeated, usually as evidence of Rove’s chicanery, such as in Paul Alexander’s 2008 tome, Machiavelli’s Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove, which states that Rove fed the story to “selected reporters” in 1988. But Alexander averred that there was “no truth to the rumor.”
Alexander writes, “The denials may have succeeded in killing the story, but the rumor—or the fact that Rove had started it—would not die. It remained alive in gossip channels in political circles for years.”
It does make one wonder if John or Cindy McCain ever heard the gossip. Granted, if they had, they may have discounted it for the same reasons others did.
(Note: Cindy McCain did not respond to inquiries made by Front Page Confidential to the McCain Institute at ASU, where she presides as chair of the board of trustees.)
School for Scandal
The Weaver affair is only the latest scandal connected in some way to Sen. McCain’s name. These run the gamut to Sen. McCain’s involvement in the ’80s with S&L swindler Charles Keating, to his suggestion in 2011 that illegal aliens were responsible for forest fires (they weren’t), to ASU’s McCain Institute taking a $1 million donation from the murderous Saudi government.
And the hits keep coming. In a bizarre incident in 2019, Cindy McCain reported an innocent mother and child at the Phoenix airport to the police, believing a trafficking incident to be in progress.
Cindy later told a local radio station the tale. How did Sherlock Cindy spot such nefariousness in plain sight? She explained that it was “a woman of a different ethnicity than the child,” and that she went with her gut.
Her gut was wrong, and she had misled the public. Phoenix cops confirmed to reporters that they checked out the pair and no criminality was involved.
This tawdry bit of snitchery was par for the course for a woman known for spreading hysteria about her pet cause, child sex trafficking, and spewing false stats in the process.
About a year later, Cindy was in Florida for the State of the World 2020 conference, when she brought up the topic of serial sex predator Jeffery Epstein and made a weird, still-unexplained revelation.
“Epstein was hiding in plain sight,” she said. “We all knew about him. We all knew what he was doing, but we had no one that was — no legal aspect that would go after him. They were afraid of him. For whatever reason, they were afraid of him.”
It remains unclear what Cindy meant when she said, “We all knew about [Epstein].”
But if Biden ever nominates her to a post that must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the public may finally find out.