File - In this Thursday Jan. 6, 2011 file photo, a traditional dhow floats in the Corniche Bay of Doha, Qatar, with tall buildings of the financial district in the background. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
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Qatar has hired a Washington influence firm founded by former top campaign aides to President Donald Trump and another specialized in digging up dirt on U.S. politicians, signaling it wants to challenge Saudi Arabia's massive lobbying efforts in America's capital amid a diplomatic dispute among Arab states. Hiring a firm once associated with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who left it in May over a dispute with his partners, shows Qatar wants access to a White House with close ties to Saudi Arabia. Since the crisis began, Qatar paid $2.5 million to the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to audit its efforts at stopping terrorism funding – one of the allegations levied by the Saudi-led quartet of countries.Qatar also signed a three-month, $1.1 million renewable contract with the opposition research firm Information Management Services, according to a Justice Department filing.Qatar did not respond to a request for comment about the lobbying contracts.Its lobbying firms have been putting out memos on Qatar.While Daffa said SAPRAC does no lobbying, it has registered as a lobbying firm with Congress and tweeted a Qatar attack ad at Trump.
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