Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Brookings President Implicated in Secret Lobbying Campaign on Behalf of Qatar

Here is more from the Washington Post:

A former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges in connection with a secret lobbying campaign on behalf of Qatar to influence the Trump White House and Congress in 2017, after implicating a retired four-star American general in the effort.

Richard G. Olson, a 34-year career Foreign Service officer who served as the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2015 until 2016, admitted to lying in ethics paperwork and violating revolving-door laws by lobbying for Qatar within a year of retiring from federal service.

In pre-plea proceedings in federal court in Washington, Olson’s defense counsel said he admitted to the misdemeanor charges — each punishable by up to one year in prison at his sentencing Sept. 13 — and cooperated with federal prosecutors on the understanding that they were also investigating and pursuing criminal charges against retired four-star Marine Gen. John G. Allen. The latter commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring in 2013. He was tapped in late 2017 as president of Washington’s influential Brookings Institution, to which Qatar agreed in 2013 to donate $14.8 million over four years.


Allen reportedly has denied ever working as a Qatari agent and said his efforts on Qatar in 2017 were motivated to prevent a war from breaking out in the Gulf that would put US troops at risk.  Allen has "voluntarily cooperated" with the government's investigation.

Update: It was reported on June 8 that the FBI has seized Allen's data related to Qatar lobbying.

Here is more from the New York Times of Brookings' affiliation with Qatar:

Brookings once had a large campus in Doha. The campus was established years before General Allen became president of the think tank. In September, according to its website, Brookings ended its affiliation with the Doha institute, which is now called the Middle East Council on Global Affairs.

 Allen became president of the think tank in November of 2017. 

Update II: John Allen has been placed on administrative leave, and EVP Ted Gayer is now serving as acting president of Brookings.

Last week it was announced that Gayer is leaving Brookings to head the Niskanen Center, effective August 2022.