Qatar attempted to lobby 250 individuals whom they deemed “influential” in the Trump administration by offering them trips to Doha, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper reported that New York restaurateur Joey Allaham and his lobbying business partner Nick Muzin courted those individuals, including Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and attorney Alan Dershowitz who traveled to Doha.
Dershowitz had written a column supporting Qatar after his trip there, which was funded by the Qatari emir, although he did say in the article that he was reluctant to accept because he has “heard that Qatar was contributing to Hamas, which is a terrorist group, and that it was supporting Iran.”
Dershowitz told The Wall Street Journal that he felt tricked because he was unaware that the purpose of the trip would be to use him for political gain.
“If I had known their purpose with me was maybe to impact the president, I would not have gone,” Dershowitz told the Journal.
Huckabee, on the other hand, was reportedly paid $50,000 by Allaham, however, he did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Allaham stated that he had pitched the idea of lobbying these individuals after the Trump administration had shown support for Saudi Arabia’s stance on Doha’s terrorist-funding activities in the region.
“We want to create a campaign where we are getting into his head as much as possible,” the newspaper quoted Allaham as saying.
Millions spent on lobbying
Qatar has lavished at least $24 million on lobbying in Washington in the last 18 months and has hired people close to Trump.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, said he worked for the Qataris on an investigation and visited Doha just weeks before becoming Trump’s personal lawyer in April.
Giuliani told Reuters that he has not spoken to Trump about his Qatar work. In contrast, Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, disclosed plans for a bill naming Qatar a sponsor of terrorism. Royce introduced the bill.
Qatar “swarmed the Hill” to oppose the bill, including appealing to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, two lobbyists said. But debates about the bill are still ongoing.
“Understandably, the Qataris called in all their lobbyists and favors to try to derail the bill, though the final chapter on these issues has yet to be written,” said the Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who has sued Qatar for hacking his emails.
In addition, Qatar has also reached out to unlikely allies. In January, Qatar's lobbyists flew Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, first class on Qatar Airways and put him up at the five-star Sheraton Grand Doha Resort for meetings with the country's leaders, according to a Reuters report.