John Allen quits Brookings amid federal investigation into his activities with Qatar

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Retired four-star Marine General John R. Allen has resigned as president of the Brookings Institution, one of the world’s most renowned think tanks, after being placed on administrative leave as part of a a federal investigation into his alleged lobbying on behalf of the government of Qatar. years ago, the firm told employees on Sunday.

The probe is investigating whether Allen, a military commander who once led US combat forces in Afghanistan, secretly urged the Trump administration to tone down its criticism of Qatar in 2017, when Persian Gulf neighbors imposed economic sanctions on the country, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremism, according to court records. Allen had been placed on administrative leave, Brookings said last week.

US law requires anyone lobbying on behalf of other governments to be registered with the Department of Justice. In his resignation letter, Allen said he had been proud to work for Brookings, an organization he described as “committed to serving the greater good of all Americans.”

“Although I leave the institution with a heavy heart, I know it’s best for everyone involved at this time,” Allen wrote. “I wish the Board of Directors and every member of the Brookings family the best in the difficult days ahead.” Beau Phillips, a spokesperson for Allen, declined to comment further.

Brookings think tank sidelines retired general amid federal probe

In an email to staffers, Brookings board co-chairs Glenn Hutchins and Suzanne Nora Johnson said Ted Gayer, a senior economics researcher, had taken over as interim chairman.

The memo credits Allen for his “leadership in successfully running the institution during the pandemic” and does not explicitly mention the federal investigation.

“Brookings seeks to maintain high ethical standards in all of its operations,” Hutchins and Nora Johnson wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Our policies on research independence and integrity reflect these values.”

The Qatari government used to provide significant financial support to the Brookings Institution, according to a recent Associated Press report, which outlines the contents of an April 15 search warrant request that included the FBI’s allegations. . While Brookings said the organization was no longer funded by the Qatari government, Qatar agreed to donate nearly $15 million to the group in 2013.

Allen met with senior Qatari leaders in 2017 when he was a part-time principal investigator at Brookings. According to law enforcement, Allen used his Brookings email address to communicate with Trump administration officials, including White House national security adviser Lt. Gen. HR McMaster of the army.

Allen offered a “false version of events” as he described the nature of his work in Qatar while talking to law enforcement officials in 2020, the FBI said. When subpoenaed by a grand jury, law enforcement officials added, Allen did not produce any email messages relevant to the case. The FBI did not immediately respond to request for comment on the investigation.

Phillips disputed the contents of the search warrant request in a statement last week, calling them “factually inaccurate, incomplete and misleading.”

“General Allen did nothing improper or illegal, never acted as an agent of Qatar or any foreign government or principal, and never obstructed justice,” wrote Phillips in a statement. “Through decades of public service in combat and diplomacy, General Allen has earned an unrivaled reputation for honor and integrity. We look forward to correcting the lies about General Allen that have been improperly made public in this affair.

The search warrant request, which appears to have been issued in error, says Allen got involved in the case through Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who pleaded guilty the week latest in the campaign, and political donor Imaad Zuberi. The effort, according to the documents, was an attempt to improve Qatar’s image during the diplomatic crisis.

US ex-diplomat pleads guilty in Qatar lobbying plot, appoints general

The search warrant request includes an email Allen sent to McMaster asking the Trump administration to call on the Gulf countries to end their blockade of vital transit routes and “act with restraint.”

In that email, Allen wrote that the Qatari government “requests a follow-up signal from the WH or DOS region of a simple statement from the United States,” referring to the White House or State Department. .

Shortly after, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly called for a “calm and thoughtful dialogue” – a dramatic reversal of statements made by then-President Donald Trump days earlier. early.

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