August 7, 2022

Brookings Institution president leaves post amid foreign lobbying probe

In a development that has rattled the D.C. establishment, General John R. Allen has resigned his post as president of influential think tank the Brookings Institution amid allegations of false statements and obstruction of an FBI investigation into his possible involvement in illegal lobbying for the country of Qatar, according to The Hill.

Brookings staffers were informed of Allen’s departure in an email message from the organization’s board co-chairs after a letter of resignation was received on Sunday, a move that came on the heels of his placement on administrative leave just days earlier.

“We want to thank John for his contributions to Brookings, including his leadership in successfully guiding the institution during the pandemic, as well as his many years of service and sacrifice for our country,” wrote Glenn Hutchins and Suzanne Nora Johnson.

Allen’s difficulties began when the Associated Press reported that the FBI had seized his electronic data in connection to suspicions that he lied to authorities and withheld potentially “incriminating” materials about his allegedly illegal foreign lobbying activities on behalf of the Persian Gulf country of Qatar.

According to the AP, court filings spell out Allen’s role in assisting Qatari attempts to shape American policy back in 2017 when tensions broke out between the energy-rich monarchy and neighboring countries.

In a search warrant application, FBI agent Babak Adib wrote, “There is substantial evidence that [Allen’s Foreign Agents Registration Act] violations were willful” and explained that the ex-Brookings head misrepresented his efforts to U.S. officials by failing to disclose “that he was simultaneously pursuing multimillion-dollar business deals with the government of Qatar.”

Allen also allegedly provided a “false version of events” and did not produce responsive email messages after receiving a grand jury subpoena compelling his compliance.

In leaving his high-profile post at Brookings, Allen declared that he was doing so with a “heavy heart,” but that “it is best for all concerned in this moment,” as the New York Post noted, and his spokesperson, Beau Phillips, reiterated the retired general’s denial of wrongdoing.

“Gen. Allen has done nothing improper or unlawful, has never acted as an agent of Qatar or any foreign government or principal, and has never obstructed justice, Phillips declared, but whether those assertions withstand continued legal scrutiny, only time will tell.

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