U.S. President Donald Trump meets Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Via REUTERS
CAIRO - 1 September 2018: Qatar has spent $16.3 million lobbying the U.S. in 2017, compared to $4.2 million in 2016, in an attempt to lobby about 250 people who can influence President Trump’s foreign policy, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and attorney Alan Dershowitz, a Wall Street Journal report claimed on Wednesday.
The alleged persons traveled to Doha, the capital of Qatar, including Dershowitz, who said they now feel duped because they had been unaware that the trips were tied to state lobbying.
“If I had known their purpose with me was maybe to impact the president, I would not have gone,” Dershowitz told the WSJ.
New York restauranteur Joey Allaham reportedly courted the group on behalf of Qatar alongside his lobbying business partner, Nick Muzin, for at least $3-million commission, they said they did not attempt to mislead any of the possible policymakers.
Dershowitz announced his reservations about visiting Qatar, given that it has previously allowed Islamists such as Hamas members to live within its borders, however, he praised Qatar in an opinion column for The Hill after the visit.
Although he declined to discuss if he received any money, Dershowitz told WSJ: “I don’t make long trips to foreign countries paying my own way.”
Huckabee was reportedly paid a previously reported $50,000 honorarium for his visit to Qatar by Allaham. He did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
Allaham says he pitched the influence campaign to Qatari officials after Trump supported a Saudi-led blockade on the small country. Saudi Arabia condemned Doha for financing, adopting and sheltering extremists.
“We want to create a campaign where we are getting into his head as much as possible,” Allaham told officials, according to the WSJ.
Some of that massive sum went towards more traditional lobbying, reaching out to those with ties to Trump and to members of Congress. Some went to the list of 250 “Trump influencers."