Former top McCain Aide says he lied to discredit a Times article

Senior strategist for Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign said Sunday night he lied to discredit a New York Times. item which reported Mr. McCain’s close relationship with a female lobbyist, a claim that the candidate and the campaign long attacked at the time.

the statements by Steve Schmidt, who posted in a late night Substack post, was a notable breakthrough for a former senior assistant who once praised Mr. McCain as “the greatest man I’ve ever known”.

More than 14 years after the Times article was published and four years after the Republican senator’s death, Mr. Schmidt unleashed a furious personal assault on the credibility of Mr. McCain and his family.

“Immediately after the story was published, John and Cindy McCain both lied to the American people,” wrote Schmidt, adding, “In the end, John McCain’s lie became mine.”

Defending his long silence on the matter, Schmidt said in his post that he “didn’t want to do anything to compromise John McCain’s honor.” Her post then questioned Mr. McCain’s judgment in choosing Alaska’s relatively unknown governor Sarah Palin as her running mate and accused Mr. McCain of crouching in front of her – “terrified of the creature he has created, “he wrote.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Schmidt said he was motivated to speak 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.”

Mr. Schmidt also accused Mr. McCain – a self-styled maverick who fought against his own party leaders while pushing for tougher restrictions on campaign financing and ethical rules on political activities such as lobbying – of lying about one aspect of the campaign. article that particularly angered the senator.

The article, published on February 21, 2008, reported that several people involved in Mr. McCain’s first presidential campaign in 2000 were concerned that he and lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, were having a romantic relationship. It was an explosive and potentially harmful claim for a presidential candidate who positioned himself as a corruption fighter committed to exposing Washington’s ways of self-treatment.

The day after the article was published, Mr. McCain appeared with his wife, Cindy, at a press conference and claimed the article was wrong. “I am very disappointed with the New York Times article. It is not true,” He said.

Mr. McCain continued to deny until his death that he had a romantic relationship with Ms. Iseman. Schmidt, however, said McCain privately acknowledged him having a relationship after the Times published his story. “John McCain told me the truth backstage at an event in Ohio,” he wrote.

Ms. Iseman sued the Times and asked him to print a retraction of the front page article. Less than three months after filing the lawsuit, she dropped it. The Times added a note to readers at the bottom of the article saying it “did not claim, and the Times did not intend to conclude that Ms. Iseman was having a romantic relationship with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on her behalf. customers who violate public trust “.

Mr. Schmidt did not mention Ms. Iseman in his Substack post, although he did make several references to private phone calls he had with a “lobbyist” which he describes in derogatory terms.

Ms. Iseman did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

A Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said the paper complied with the article. “We were confident in the accuracy of our reporting in 2008 and we remain so.”

Mr. McCain’s daughter Meghan, a conservative author and former co-host of “The View,” said her family did not comment on Monday.