Biden taps Qatar shill to lead effort to counter foreign propaganda

James Rubin also lobbied for Zimbabwe and a Turkish state bank linked to Iran.

By Chuck Ross, Washington Free Beacon

The State Department’s Global Engagement Center is charged with understanding and countering propaganda from America’s adversaries.

So a man who has shilled for Qatar, Zimbabwe, and a Turkish state bank linked to Iran may be an awkward fit as its leader.

As a partner at the firm Ballard Partners, James Rubin until 2020 lobbied State Department and White House officials on behalf of Qatar, the oil-rich Gulf nation that funds terrorist groups and is allied with Iran, according to disclosures filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Rubin, who served in the State Department under President Bill Clinton, also represented Halkbank, a Turkish state bank indicted in a gold-for-oil scheme with Iran. He shilled for the government of Zimbabwe in its effort to alleviate sanctions over the “unusual and extraordinary threat” the regime poses to the United States.

Biden on Friday appointed Rubin to serve as special envoy and coordinator of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, formed to identify and expose foreign propaganda “that threatens the security of the United States, our allies, and partners.” According to the State Department, Rubin will focus on countering foreign disinformation and propaganda with a focus on Russia, China, Iran, and terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

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Rubin’s work for the controversial regimes is likely to raise questions about the revolving door between the Biden White House and lobbying firms. As a candidate in 2020, Biden said he would prohibit foreign governments’ use of lobbyists, saying that “there is no reason why a foreign government should be permitted to lobby Congress or the Executive Branch.”

Rubin, the ex-husband of CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, is the latest in a string of foreign agents hired by the Biden administration. Amos Hochstein, a top White House adviser on international energy issues, represented Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s most repressive regimes. Erin Pelton, who served as special assistant to Biden, lobbied for Qatar prior to joining the administration. George Salem, appointed chairman of a board at USAID this year, represented the Palestine Monetary Authority, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.