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John Weaver, the chief strategist for John Kasich’s presidential campaign in 2016, said Thursday he had backed out of a contract to lobby in the U.S. against potential sanctions on Russia, one day after POLITICO reported on the agreement.
Weaver — a longtime Republican operative who continued advising Kasich after 2016 and is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump — registered as a foreign agent after signing a contract last month to lobby on behalf of Tenam Corp., a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company.
He planned to lobby Congress and the Trump administration on “sanctions or other restrictions in the area of atomic (nuclear) energy, trade or cooperation involving in any way the Russian Federation,” according to a disclosure filing.
But Weaver tweeted Thursday that he’d asked his lawyer to tell Tenam he would “reject the agreement.”
“While I fear the dangers nuclear proliferation & know a stable uranium market is important to the USA’s national & economic security — & experts urged this — my laser focus is on 2020 & playing any role — major or minor — in ensuring Trump serves only 1 term,” Weaver wrote in a series of tweets. “To allow anything to distract from that is a mistake. And I can recognize a mistake when I make it.”
“No funds were transferred, no actions taken,” he added.
Weaver’s decision to scrap the contract came just hours after he defended his decision to lobby for Tenam in a series of Wednesday night tweets.
“I know this is counter intuitive,” Weaver tweeted on Wednesday. “Man bites dog. How could a Putin critic, someone with a single digit (and well earned) Trump enemy list # do this?”
But adding “uncertainty to the uranium market would make this globe even more dangerous,” he wrote.
Weaver didn’t respond to POLITICO’s requests for comment on Thursday.
Weaver’s six-month contract with Tenam was worth $350,000, plus expenses, with an option to extend if necessary, according to a copy filed with the Justice Department. While it wasn’t clear exactly what sanctions Weaver was set to lobby against, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced legislation earlier this year that would curtail the amount of uranium that could be imported from Russia, among other provisions. The bill hasn’t made it out of committee.
Fletcher Newton, Tenam’s president, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Weaver’s decision to scrap the contract.
He told POLITICO on Wednesday he’d hired Weaver to “work with Congress and, hopefully, make sure they don’t come up with something vis-a-vis Russia that ends up hurting the United States.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine