Qatar attempted to lobby almost 250 people who are close to President Donald Trump and might influence him on some policy. Among them are former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
According to The Wall Street Journal, some of the people on the list even traveled to Doha, the capital of Qatar.
Dershowitz and several others have said that 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 Journal.
New York restauranteur Joey Allaham reportedly courted the group on behalf of Qatar alongside his lobbying business partner, Nick Muzin. The two earned at least $3 million for it, according to their federal filings, and say they did not attempt to mislead any of the possible policy-makers.
Dershowitz said he had reservations about visiting Qatar, given that it has previously allowed Islamists such as Hamas members to live within its borders, declining to discuss if he received any money.
“I don’t make long trips to foreign countries paying my own way.”
Huckabee was 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 when Trump imposed a blockade on the small country after Saudi Arabia condemned it for allegedly “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 Journal.
Qatar spent $16.3 million lobbying the U.S. in 2017, compared to only $4.2 million in 2016.
Some of that massive sum went towards more traditional lobbying, reaching out to those with ties to Trump and to members of Congress.