Retired Gen. Allen pushes back on allegations that he lobbied for Qatar during 2017 Gulf blockade

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Retired four-star Gen. John R. Allen’s private counsel blasted federal investigators for a “damaging ethical breach” after agents seized electronic data potentially related to his alleged role as an illegal foreign lobbying agent for the nation of Qatar. 

“General Allen’s counsel is deeply concerned about the serious and damaging ethical breach that occurred with the public release of a search warrant affidavit containing confidential grand jury information,” Beau Phillips, a spokesman for Allen, told Fox News Digital. 

“Not only did the breach offend longstanding law and Department of Justice policy on the confidentiality of ongoing investigations, but the narrative presented in the affidavit and now made public also is factually inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading.”

New federal court filings outlined a potential criminal case against Allen, who led U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before moving over to the Brookings Institution think tank in 2017. The case against Allen alleges that he worked to help Qatar influence U.S. policy in that same year when a diplomatic crisis erupted in the Gulf region. 

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FBI agent Babak Adib wrote in a search warrant application that there is “substantial evidence” that Allen violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). 

But the general, through his counsel, has denied and pushed back against the allegations. 

“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 said. “Through decades of public service in combat and diplomacy, General Allen has earned an unmatched, sterling reputation for honor and integrity.”

“We look forward to correcting the falsehoods about Gen. Allen that have been improperly publicized in this matter,” he added. 

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The FARA laws require any person engaged in domestic work of a political nature (or advocacy) on behalf a foreign interest to register that fact with the Department of Justice, including any information related to financial compensation.

In 2017, Gen. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI that included statements regarding his communications with a Russian ambassador. The media relentlessly hounded him and pushed for his conviction until then-President Trump issued him a full pardon in the final months of his presidency.   

Allen’s case relates to a 2017 crisis during which several nations announced a blockade on Qatar over a dispute related to a number of issues. Trump appeared to side with Qatar over the incident, and court papers filed Tuesday alleged that Allen played an important role in shifting the U.S. response by lobbying then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. 

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Allen previously said his efforts aimed to prevent a war from breaking out in the Gulf, potentially putting U.S. troops at risk. 

The FBI says Allen gave a “false version of events” about his work for Qatar during a 2020 interview with law enforcement officials and that he failed to produce relevant email messages in response to an earlier grand jury subpoena.

The allegations led Brookings to place Allen on administrative leave Wednesday as the investigation expanded. Allen was serving as president at the time. 

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The institution made clear to staffers that it was not under investigation itself. Qatar has long been one of Brookings’ biggest financial backers, but the institution says it has recently stopped taking Qatari funding.

Brookings pays Allen more than $1 million a year, according to its most recently available tax records. The email to staff did not say whether Allen would continue to be paid while on leave.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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