This GOP Operative Bashed the Kremlin. Then He Got a $350,000 Lobbying Deal.
John Weaver said he researched the issue before taking the contract and consulted with like-minded allies, including the late Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN).
Republican consultant John Weaver has spent two years hammering President Donald Trump over the Russian government’s support for his presidential campaign—and allegations that the Trump campaign encouraged or abetted it.
Now Weaver is working for an arm of the same foreign government he’s so vehemently denounced. He just signed a six-figure contract to fight sanctions and trade restrictions on Russia’s state-owned uranium company.
The registration was first reported by Politico earlier on Wednesday evening.
Weaver and his firm, The Network Companies, LLC, inked a deal on April 29 with TENEX, a U.S. arm of state-owned Russian uranium company Rosatom, according to a copy of the contract posted on the Justice Department’s website. Weaver will provide “strategies, advice, and lobbying directed toward the U.S. Congress and Administration, and the U.S. nuclear energy industry” related to “any sanctions or other restrictions in the area of atomic (nuclear) energy, trade or cooperation involving in any way the Russian Federation.”
Weaver’s company will get $350,000 for work performed through October, according to the contract, with an option to extend the agreement at a rate of $40,000 per month.
TENEX is a sister company of Uranium One, a Rosatom-owned Canadian mining firm with major U.S. uranium holdings. The company became a political flashpoint during the 2016 election after The New York Times reported that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s department had signed off on its sale to Rosatom after Uranium One’s chairman donated to the Clinton Foundation. (Clinton herself denied any role in facilitating the deal, and no evidence has since emerged to the contrary.)
TENEX is currently fighting efforts by the U.S. uranium industry and trade hawks in the Trump administration to impose national security tariffs on imported uranium. The Commerce Department recently submitted a report to the president on the effects and advisability of such a measure, but has not said whether it recommended imposing those tariffs.
Weaver told The Daily Beast that, far from advancing the interests of the Russian government, his work for TENEX will be fully in line with U.S. strategic interests. “The U.S. nuclear power industry relies heavily on uranium from Russia,” he explained in an interview on Wednesday. “The view from many experts is you don’t want that situation to change so that the Russians feel compelled to sell it on the open market.”
Weaver said he researched the issue before taking the contract and consulted with like-minded allies, including the late Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
TENEX marks Weaver’s first registered lobbying client, and he doesn’t appear to have publicly weighed in on the uranium tariff issue previously. But he has vocally supported sanctions against Russia over its interference in the 2016 presidential election and broader geopolitical aggression over the past couple years.
Weaver also advises former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, as he mulls his own presidential run. Kasich called for “an additional series of escalating sanctions” last year in a Boston Globe column that laid out what Weaver called “the right approach to Russia.”
But if U.S. authorities consider any such sanctions that might affect the Russian nuclear energy industry this year, it appears Weaver will be contractually bound to oppose them.
Read more about more corruption, campaign finance, and influence-peddling in Thursday’s PayDirt.