A political firm that lobbies for the company behind Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline reportedly helped pressure a key GOP senator to support Secretary of State Antony Blinken's confirmation.
BGR Group helped orchestrate a letter from a group of former foreign policy and national security officials — all of them Republicans — urging Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, to support Blinken's confirmation. The letter, first reported by Politico, coincided with BGR's lobbying efforts in support of the Russian pipeline, Fox News reported.
Fox News posted an an electronic copy of the letter, reporting its metadata shows it was created by Adriana Larsen, a senior policy analyst at BGR.
Risch was among the Republicans who voted to confirm Blinken.
BGR registered on April 1, 2020, as a lobbyist for Nord Stream 2 AG on "Issues related to the U.S. position toward the Nord Stream 2 pipeline," Senate lobbying disclosures show, Fox News reported.
Since then, Nord Stream has paid BGR $240,000 per quarter – or just under $1 million per year – to lobby in favor of the pipeline, the disclosures also show.
The same firm lobbying on behalf of the pipeline and promoting Blinken's confirmation is likely to raise questions from Republicans on Capitol Hill, Fox News noted.
Blinken was scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.
"Secretary Blinken had no knowledge of any BGR work on behalf of his confirmation, he was not aware of the group’s work on behalf of Nord Stream 2, nor was he in contact with BGR regarding it. The Secretary has been clear: he, like the President, is opposed to the pipeline and views it as a Russian influence project," State Department spokesman Ned Price told Fox News in an email.
Risch's office, meanwhile, told Fox News the letter didn’t influence his decision to vote for Blinken. The senator has led legislation against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and previously described President Joe Biden's decision to waive the sanctions as "a gift to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that will only weaken the United States’ leverage in the lead up to the impending Biden-Putin summit."
"It is deeply disturbing that this administration canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline on its first day, killing thousands of U.S. and Canadian jobs. Yet, it continues to support Russian workers involved in a project that goes against U.S. and European security interests," Risch said after Biden waived the sanctions.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal with Moscow will transfer Russian gas to Germany through a pipeline running under the Baltic Sea. If completed, it would double the amount of natural gas Russia transports directly to Europe.
"As a practical matter, the physical completion of the pipeline was, I think a fait accompli," Blinken said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Monday, Reuters reported. "And irrespective of sanctioning that entity and the CEO, that would not in our judgment have changed anything in terms of the physical completion. I think we have an opportunity to make something positive out of a bad hand that we inherited when we took office."
The Trump administration opposed the pipeline.
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