Decorated General Resigns From Liberal Think Tank Amid Qatar Lobbying Probe
Retired Gen. John Allen resigned from the Brookings Institution amid an investigation into alleged illegal lobbying on behalf of Qatar.
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A highly decorated, retired four-star general resigned as head of liberal think tank Brookings Institution Sunday amid an FBI investigation into a foreign lobbying scheme.

Former Marine Gen. John Allen, who as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command from 2008-11 led U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is under investigation for allegedly making false statements to authorities about his alleged efforts to lobby the U.S. on behalf of Qatar. The FBI seized electronic data from Allen last week, according to an Associated Press report last week.

“I know it is best for all concerned in this moment,” Allen wrote in a letter to the institution in which he said he left with a “heavy heart.”

Allen has not yet been charged with any crime in connection with the investigation.

Brookings placed Allen on administrative leave the day after The Associated Press reported the investigation last week. The Washington-based think tank, which was founded in 1916 and conducts research in economic policy and development with the stated mission strengthening American democracy, issued a statement to staffers after Allen stepped down.

“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,“ co-chairs of the Board of Trustees Glenn Hutchins and Suzanne Nora Johnson wrote in an internal email.

“The integrity and objectivity of Brookings’s scholarship constitute the institution’s principal assets, and Brookings seeks to maintain high ethical standards in all its operations,” the email continued. “Our policies on research independence and integrity reflect these values.”

In court filings, the Department of Justice details Allen’s alleged secret efforts to help Qatar influence U.S. policy in June 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the Qatar and its neighbors. An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant there was “substantial evidence” that Allen knowingly broke a foreign lobbying law, made false statements to federal investigators, and withheld “incriminating” documents.

Brookings, which took in over $85 million in 2020 and boasts an endowment of more than a quarter of a billion dollars, was accused in a 2014 New York Times investigation of taking payments from foreign governments including Norway while lobbying American government officials on their behalf. In the same report, the Times said Qatar was Brookings’ “single biggest foreign donor,” having made a $14.8 million, four-year contribution in 2013.

Allen took the helm in 2017.

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