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Former Trump aide working with Russian company to lift US sanctions: report

Former Trump aide working with Russian company to lift US sanctions: report
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A former aide to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE's campaign and transition team is helping a Russian company owned by a sanctioned oligarch strike a deal to lift penalties against the firm, CNN reports

The aide, Bryan Lanza, is reportedly lobbying on behalf of former British energy minister Lord Gregory Barker, the chairman of EN+ Group, an energy and aluminum firm controlled by Oleg Deripaska. 

Deripaska, a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was among 13 Russian nationals hit with U.S. sanctions in April in response to what the Trump administration said were Moscow's broad "destabilizing activities."

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Deripaska currently owns a majority stake in EN+. But according to CNN, Lanza is lobbying on behalf of the firm as it seeks to reduce Deripaska's ownership enough to shed the U.S. sanctions. 

Lanza's work for Mercury Public Affairs LLC, the firm at which he serves as a managing director, does not appear to be illegal and seems to be doing standard lobbying work, according to CNN. The strategy firm disclosed the plan to reduce Deripaska's stake in EN+ to the U.S. government last week.

CNN reported that Lanza and other lobbyists at Mercury have sought to cast the deal to the Trump administration as beneficial, because it would ultimately require a sanctioned oligarch to cede majority control of a company.

Lanza's work with EN+ highlights how Trump's former aides outside of government have touted their access to the president as a way to benefit clients in the U.S. and abroad.

For example, it was reported this week that Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer for Trump, pitched his proximity to the president to clients, landing him consulting deals.

According to CNN, Lanza is still in regular contact with White House officials.