Brookings furloughs retired general amid FBI investigation | National


By ALAN SUDERMAN and JIM MUSTIAN – Associated Press

The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine General John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday as part of a federal investigation into his role in an illegal lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Gulf nation. Persian, Qatar.

Brookings’ announcement came a day after the Associated Press reported on new court documents that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of the investigation and detailed its behind-the-scenes efforts to help Qatar influence US policy in 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted erupted between the gas-rich monarchy and its neighbors.

Allen, who led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan before being tapped to lead Brookings in late 2017, has not been charged with any crime and has previously denied any wrongdoing. His spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Brookings told staffers in an email on Wednesday that the institute itself was not under investigation and that the think tank’s executive vice president, Ted Gayer, would serve as president. acting

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“We have every confidence in the ability of the Brookings team to remain focused on quality, independence and impact,” the email reads.

The federal investigation involving Allen has already ensnared Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty on federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. Several members of Congress were also questioned.

An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant that there was “substantial evidence” that Allen knowingly violated a foreign lobbying law, made false statements and withheld “incriminating” documents.

Allen’s job behind the scenes was to travel to Qatar and meet with the country’s top officials to offer advice on how to influence US policy, as well as promote Qatar’s views to senior officials. White House and congressional officials, according to the FBI affidavit. .

The Qatari embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brookings is one of the most influential think tanks in the United States and has long had close ties to Qatar. In 2007, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to fund a Brookings-backed subsidiary in Qatar called Brookings Doha Center.

The Qatari government said in a 2012 press release that the center’s role included “reflecting Qatar’s shining image in the international media, especially the American media”, according to a New York Times report which showed that Qatar had given Brookings $14.4 million in donations over four years.

As a nonprofit organization, Brookings is not required to disclose donations, but it does voluntarily disclose certain data. Its annual reports show that Qatar gave at least $2 million a year from 2016 to 2021.

Brookings said in a statement that Allen decided in 2019 to stop receiving new donations from Qatar and to close the Brookings Doha Center.

“Brookings has strict policies in place to prohibit donors from directing research activities,” the email to staffers said Wednesday.

Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia, Mustian from New Orleans.

Contact the AP Global Investigation Team at [email protected] or https://www.ap.org/tips/

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