Retired Marine Gen. John Allen is under FBI investigation for allegedly trying to help Qatar navigate a diplomatic crisis in 2017 and covering up that he did so, the Wall Street Journal reports. Allen, who has been serving as the president of the Brookings institution since November 2017, was placed on leave Wednesday. The institution said Allen had traveled to Qatar in a personal capacity before he took up his Brookings post, and that Brookings wasn't being investigated. A federal affidavit provides new details about a sprawling U.S. inquiry into the Gulf country's efforts to influence Washington during the Trump administration at the start of Qatar's years-long feud with its neighbors.
The investigation already ensnared Richard Olson Jr., a U.S. ambassador in the Obama administration who pleaded guilty last week to providing advice to Qatar during his one-year-cooling-off-period after leaving office in November 2016. Olson admitted he recruited Allen, a retired four-star general, to work on a lobbying and public-relations campaign for Qatar. A spokesman for Allen said he had voluntarily cooperated with the government's investigation and said his efforts with regard to Qatar were to protect the interests of the U.S. Allen said he had never acted as an agent of the Qatari government, never had an agreement with Qatar or any Qatari individual or entity, or had ever received fees directly or indirectly from the Qatari government. Allen has had a long career in national security and the Middle East. He retired in 2013 after 35 years in the military. Qatar has been an important outpost for the U.S. military and is well known to current and former American commanders. The country hosts the regional headquarters for the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East.