Qatar, reeling from a blockade imposed by its Arab neighbors as well as President Trump’s accusation that the Persian Gulf nation funds terror, has hired former Attorney General John Ashcroft as a lobbyist and crisis management consultant.
According to documents filed with the Justice Department on Friday, Qatar will pay Ashcroft Law Firm $2.5 million to provide strategic advice, crisis response, legal counsel, and media outreach to help bolster its image and improve its compliance with anti-money laundering and counterterrorism laws.
The work will commence “immediately,” according to the contract, which notes “the urgency of this matter.”
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates announced a blockade against Qatar over its alleged financing of terror groups and its ties to Iran. The small oil-rich regime, which has been dubbed “Club Med for Terrorists,” has long been accused providing a safe haven for terrorists and their financiers.
In a shock to many, President Trump backed the coalition’s decision, saying that “perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
Critics of Trump’s comments noted that Qatar hosts Al Udeid Air Base, the largest U.S. military installation in the Gulf region.
In a speech aimed at cleaning up Trump’s remarks, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson called on the Saudi-led coalition to ease its blockade. But Trump undercut those remarks, saying at a press conference on Friday that Qatar is a “funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
Qatar’s hiring of Ashcroft aims to curb that perception.
The contract calls on Ashcroft’s group to help Qatar improve its money-laundering and counterterrorism compliance programs as well as to communicate those efforts to government leaders and the media.
Ashcroft, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush from 2001 through 2005, will also will enlist the support of former senior government officials from the Intelligence Community, FBI, Department of Treasure, and Department of Homeland Security.
“The Firm understands the urgency of this matter and need to communicate accurate information to both a broad constituency and certain domestic agencies and leaders,” reads the contract.