Steve Schmidt, the former GOP operative, revealed that his one-time boss, Sen. John McCain, had an extramarital affair and lied to conceal it during the 2008 presidential election.
In a blog post, Schmidt contends that a 2008 New York Times article reporting on rumors that McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman had a romantic relationship was accurate, but he helped the Arizona senator cover it up.
“I’m very disappointed in The New York Times piece. It’s not true,” McCain, standing alongside his wife Cindy, said at the time.
Schmidt, who helped run McCain’s 2008 White House bid, claims the denial was dishonest.
“Immediately following the story’s publication, John and Cindy McCain both lied to the American people,” Schmidt wrote, adding, “Ultimately, John McCain’s lie became mine.”
Iseman also vociferously denied the story – she even filed a $27 million lawsuit against The Times that was later settled without payment. But Schmidt wrote that McCain admitted that the affair took place.
“John McCain told me the truth backstage at an event in Ohio,” Schmidt, now a critic of the Republican Party, wrote on his blog. He did not specifically name Iseman, but referred to a “lobbyist at the center of the story.”
Schmidt claims that McCain’s duplicity led him to tolerate malfeasance on his campaign:
Senator John McCain turned a blind eye to the dealings of his top adviser, Rick Davis, who was making millions of dollars with his partner, Paul Manafort. Manafort was advancing the interests of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe. They worked for the Putin puppet Victor Yanukovych and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. They advanced Russian interests from the Maidan to Montenegro. John McCain spent his 70th birthday with Oleg Deripaska and Rick Davis on a Russian yacht at anchor in Montenegro.
“The story of American corruption in Ukraine is a disgrace, and in part has led to the human disaster in Ukraine,” Schmidt adds. ‘The corruption did not start in the Trump era, but years before. It started in the K Street sewer firms where Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort and Rick Davis thrived.”
The New York Times reports:
Defending his long silence on the matter, Mr. Schmidt said in his post that he “didn’t want to do anything to compromise John McCain’s honor.” His post then questioned Mr. McCain’s judgment in choosing the relatively unknown governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate and accused Mr. McCain of cowering before her — “terrified of the creature that he created,” he wrote.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Schmidt said he was motivated to speak up now in part because he felt he had been unfairly associated for nearly 15 years with Mr. McCain’s choice of Ms. Palin, which he called “a burden.”
Schmidt vowed to oppose Palin’s congressional bid, writing on Twitter, “@SarahPalinUSA You and I have unfinished business. I’ll do everything I can to make sure you never hold a position of responsibility in the United States Congress. You are an unstable, narcissistic, ignorant, grifting quitter. Magnificent, Majestic, Alaska deserves better.”
In another series of tweets over the weekend, Schmidt also took aim at McCain’s daughter, conservative commentator Megan McCain.
Schmidt said she acted like a “raging, screaming, crying” baby during the 2008 campaign and he was forced to kick her off the campaign’s plane.
“The tantrums were beyond anything I have ever witnessed from any other human being,” Schmidt wrote. “They were epic meltdowns that would test the range of Meryl Streep, Kate Winslett, Jodi Foster and Anne Hathaway on their best days. Raging, screaming, crying, at the staff, at the makeup people at Secret Service.”
“It was my job to confront it and I did,” he added. “I talked to 24 year old @MeghanMcCain the way an adult should have talked to the Trump kids. I talked to her the way a retired USMC 4 Star General failed to do in the WH with Ivanka, Jared and Jr.,” he said, adding that “they are all the same people.”