Washington: Retired Marine General John Allen resigned as the president of Brookings Institution amid a federal investigation into whether he lobbied the US government on behalf of Qatar during the Donald Trump administration, CNN reported.
Allen, a retired four-star general who led US and allied troops in Afghanistan, wrote in his resignation letter, “While I leave the institution with a heavy heart, I know it is best for all concerned in this moment.”
Allen’s resignation from Brookings, a prominent Washington think-tank, comes after a court filing revealed last week, which is publicly available on a non-profit legal research website, that the FBI had seized Allen’s electronic communications.
The FBI’s search warrant in the court filing, which appeared to have been posted online by mistake, accused Allen of appearing to violate foreign lobbying laws and failing to provide emails related to the lobbying effort. Allen has denied lobbying on behalf of Qatar, CNN reported.
The lobbying investigation concerns Allen’s communications with Trump administration officials, including former national security advisor H.R. McMaster, after Qatar was diplomatically cut off by its Gulf rivals in 2017. The investigation is the latest effort by the Justice Department to crack down on foreign lobbying violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The FBI’s search warrant, which is dated in April, alleges that Allen was recruited in 2017 to travel to Qatar while the country was grappling with a blockade from other Gulf nations, which had accused Qatar of supporting extremism.
Allen, who was a senior fellow at Brookings at the time, worked with businessman Imaad Zuberi, who pleaded guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws in 2019, and former US Ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, Richard Olson, who pleaded guilty on foreign lobbying charges earlier this month, CNN reported.
The trio travelled to Doha, and Allen sought a “$20,000 ‘speaking engagement’ fee,” according to the court filling. Federal investigators noted that it’s not clear whether Zuberi paid the fee or other compensation to Allen.