February 22, 2024

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Brookings Institution Margins Retired General Amid Federal Investigation

Brookings Institution Margins Retired General Amid Federal Investigation

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The Brookings Institution, a prestigious research firm in the capital, on Wednesday put its president, retired Marine General John R. Allen, on administrative leave amid a federal investigation examining his activities on behalf of the government of Qatar for years.

Allen, who was once a senior military commander who commanded all US combat forces in Afghanistan, is suspected of secretly lobbying the Trump administration to soften its criticism of the oil-rich country during a tense period in 2017 when Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states imposed harshness. Economic measures against the Qatari government over its allegations of support for Islamic extremists, according to court records. Federal prosecutors also alleged that Allen sought to obstruct the investigation by trying to withhold evidence and lying to authorities, those documents show.

Allen met with senior Qatari leaders in 2017, prior to his appointment as president of the Brookings Institution. He was a senior fellow there at the time part-time and, according to law enforcement, used his Brookings Institution email to communicate with Trump administration officials, including the White House’s national security adviser at the time, Lieutenant General HR McMaster. .

When informing staff of their decision to give Allen administrative leave, two members of the institute’s board of trustees, Glenn Hutchins and Susan Norah Johnson, wrote in an email: “We want to assure you that the Brookings Institution is not the subject of this investigation. Brookings has strong policies in place to prevent donors from directing Research activities.

The Qatari government was once one of the most important financial backers of the Brookings Institution, according to Associated Press, which this week revealed the contents of a 77-page search warrant request detailing the FBI’s allegations. Brookings said the group no longer receives funding from the Qatari government, even though the country agreed in 2013 to donate about $15 million to the institute.

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Beau Phillips, a spokesperson for Allen, issued a statement Wednesday night calling law enforcement’s account detailed in the search warrant request “factually inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading.”

“General Allen has never done anything improper or illegal, has never acted as an agent for Qatar or any foreign government or principal, and has never obstructed justice,” the statement read. “Through decades of public service in combat and diplomacy, General Allen has earned an unparalleled and remarkable reputation for honor and integrity. We look forward to correcting the lies about General Allen that have been incorrectly publicized in this matter.”

The AP reports that the search warrant request, dated April 15 and seeking court approval to search the retired general’s digital communications, was released publicly in error. Richard J Olson, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who He pleaded guilty last week Regarding the clandestine lobbying campaign, political donor Imad al-Zubayri engaged the retired general in a scheme to brighten Qatar’s image during Diplomatic crisis.

The FBI alleged that during a 2020 interview with authorities, Allen gave a “false version of events” by saying he was helping set up a military advisory board. Law enforcement officials also confirmed that Allen did not turn over the relevant emails, a search warrant request shows.

US law requires those lobbying on behalf of other governments to be registered with the Department of Justice.

The search warrant request includes the text of an email Allen sent to McMaster asking the administration to issue a statement calling on Gulf states to end their blockade of vital transit links and “act with restraint.”

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“What they’re asking for is a follow-up reference to the region from WH or DOS for a simple statement from the United States,” Allen wrote of the Qataris, referring to the White House or the State Department, the documents show. Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quickly made a statement calling for “calm and thoughtful dialogue.”

This was a reflection of the statements made by President Donald Trump a few days ago, Which included accusations of terrorism financed by Qatar.

Zubairy, He was sentenced last year 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and charges he did not register as a foreign agent, agreed to pay Allen a $20,000 speaker fee to visit Qatar and cover first-class travel to and from Qatar Doha, court documents say, but investigators say they have not found Evidence that Allen received the speaker’s fee.

Spencer S. contributed to this report. Hsu.