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Former top State Department official to plead guilty for helping Qatar improperly influence US policy

Foreign Lobbying Ambassador Charged
Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 16:10:50-04

A former top-ranking State Department official is set to plead guilty for improperly helping a wealthy Gulf country try to influence U.S. policy and not disclosing on government ethics forms the gifts he received from a disgraced political fundraiser.

Court records filed earlier this month say that Richard G. Olson, who was the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at end of the Obama administration, provided "aid and advice" to Qatar on lobbying activities in violation of a "revolving door" prohibition against such behavior for one year after leaving public service.

Olson, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, indicated in a signed filing earlier this month he intends to plead guilty. As the Associated Press reported, it was not clear if Olson is or was cooperating with any other investigations.

The effort is one of the most high-profile cases the U.S. Department of Justice has been involved with, in recent memory, to deal with illegal campaigns funded by foreign governments to handle influence that can alter U.S. policy.