Republican political strategist John Weaver said Thursday that he is backing out of a lobbying deal with a Russian nuclear entity, following questions about how the work squared with his strident criticism of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a series of tweets, Weaver said his pursuit of the contract — which reportedly would have payed him $350,000 over six months — was a “mistake” and acknowledged that it could have undermined his role as an adviser to John Kasich. With Weaver’s counsel, the former Ohio governor has been weighing whether to challenge Trump in the 2020 primaries.
Kasich, now a commentator with CNN, did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday. Those close to his political team also have dodged questions about how Kasich felt about Weaver’s arrangement and whether he would continue on as an adviser.
Weaver’s work for Tenam, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Rosatom, would have involved arguing against US sanctions on Russia — something Weaver has advocated for in the past. He told BuzzFeed News Wednesday evening that he saw his role as helping to ensure that “nuclear proliferation doesn’t get out of hand.” He also said that the lobbying contract would not silence his efforts to call out Russia’s attempts to influence US elections.
A Texas-based consultant, Weaver also has worked on Republican presidential campaigns for the late John McCain and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, now the US ambassador to Russia.