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An Anti-Trump Republican Is Backing Out Of His Contract To Lobby Against New Sanctions On Russia After Scrutiny

“Now, I've got to get back to the barricades,” John Weaver tweeted Thursday. “Apologies for the momentary distraction.”

Posted on May 16, 2019, at 12:23 p.m. ET

Alexey Nikolsky / AFP / Getty Images

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 paid 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.

Nothing is more vital to America & the world than dispatching @realDonaldTrump & his low travelers from the WH. While I fear the dangers of 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. To allow anything to distract from that is a mistake. And I can recognize a mistake when I make it. My attorney has contacted Tenam this morning & informed them

I must reject this agreement. No funds were transferred, no actions taken. Now, I've got to get back to the barricades. Apologies for the momentary distraction.

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.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.