The prestigious Brookings Institution has left its president, retired four-star Marine General John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into his role in an illegal lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar.
The Brookings announcement came a day after the Associated Press reported new court documents showing that the FBI had recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation and detailed his behind-the-scenes efforts to help Qatar influence US policy in 2017. ., when a diplomatic crisis erupted. between the gas-rich monarchy and its neighbors.
Allen, who led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan before being appointed to lead Brookings in late 2017, has not been charged with any crimes and has previously denied any wrongdoing. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Brookings told officials in an email Wednesday that the institute itself has not been investigated and that executive vice president of the think tank Ted Geier will be acting president.
“We have full confidence in the Brookings team’s ability to stay focused on delivering quality, independence and impact,” the email said.
A federal investigation involving Allen has already arrested Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty to federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor now serving a 12-year sentence. corruption charges. Several members of Congress were also interviewed.
An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of the search warrant that there was “substantial evidence” that Allen had knowingly violated a foreign lobbying law and made false statements and seized “incriminating” documents.
Allen’s behind-the-scenes work included a trip to Qatar and a meeting with senior officials to offer advice on how to influence US policy and promote Qatar’s views to senior White House and Congress officials, according to an affidavit. FBI.
The Qatari embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brookings is one of the most influential thoughts thanks to the United States and has long had strong ties with Qatar. In 2007, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to fund a Brookings-supported branch in Qatar called the Brookings Doha Center.
The Qatari government said in a press release in 2012 that the center’s role included “covering Qatar’s vivid image in the international media, especially in the United States”, according to a New York Times report showing that Qatar had given Brookings $ 14.4 million in donations over a four-year period.
As a non-profit organization, Brookings does not have to disclose its donations, but voluntarily discloses some information. His annual reports show that Qatar provides at least $ 2 million a year from 2016 to 2021.
Brookings said in a statement that Allen had decided in 2019 to stop accepting any new donations from Qatar and to close the Brookings center in Doha.
“Brookings has strong policies to ban donors from conducting research,” an email to officials said Wednesday.
Suderman reports from Richmond, Virginia, Mustian from New Orleans.
Contact the AP’s global investigation team at Investigative@ap.org or https://www.ap.org/tips/
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Brookings puts a retired general on leave during an FBI investigation
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