FLASHBACK: Lincoln Project Cofounder Steve Schmidt Was Too 'Untrustworthy' for Donald Trump

'Anti-Trump' strategist reportedly interviewed for campaign manager job in 2016

February 5, 2021

It has been almost five years since Steve Schmidt, cofounder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tried to persuade then-candidate Donald Trump to hire him as campaign manager but was rejected after Trump assessed him to be a "total idiot" who was "very untrustworthy."

From a July 2020 report in the New York Post:

Steve Schmidt, one of the co-founders of anti-Trump political action group the Lincoln Project, met with then-candidate Donald Trump and tried to join his campaign during a 2016 Manhattan meeting, sources with knowledge of the conversation told The Post.

But the Republican operative—best known for his work on John McCain’s failed presidential bid before becoming one of the faces of the "Never Trump" movement—failed to get the gig because Trump thought he was a "total idiot," one of the sources said.

Ten days after Schmidt’s March 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, the campaign hired Paul Manafort as chairman and eventually promoted him to campaign manager.

Trump was especially "turned off" by Schmidt's decision to snitch on his former boss by becoming a primary source for "Game Change," the book-turned-movie about the 2008 election authored by John Heilemann and disgraced pervert Mark Halperin. This suggested Schmidt would make a "very untrustworthy" employee.

Schmidt, who was portrayed in the HBO drama by the far more attractive and athletic Woody Harrelson, later alleged that his meeting with Trump was a casual encounter to "see what he was about," akin to going to take a ride on a UFO.

Before founding the Lincoln Project, Schmidt was best known for urging McCain to choose Sarah Palin as a running mate in 2008. Former president Barack Obama has implied that Schmidt is almost single-handedly to blame for ruining politics in America. Schmidt has said his critics will "have to wait ... for the apology that's never coming."

The Lincoln Project is best known for its association with John Weaver, the former McCain strategist who left the group in disgrace after admitting to "inappropriate" sexual interactions with dozens of young men.

Schmidt told the New York Times earlier this week there was "no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior" within the Lincoln Project, despite claims from multiple individuals who say they were rebuffed after reaching out to express concern about Weaver.