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Politics Lobbying by Bob Dole Led to Trump’s Call With Taiwan

02:35  07 december  2016
02:35  07 december  2016 Source:   nytimes.com

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Former Senator Bob Dole, shown in November 2015, has been working as a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird. © Gary Cameron/Reuters Former Senator Bob Dole, shown in November 2015, has been working as a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird.

WASHINGTON — Former Senator Bob Dole, acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan, worked behind the scenes over the past six months to establish high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff, an effort that culminated last week in an unorthodox telephone call between Mr. Trump and Taiwan’s president.

Mr. Dole, a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird, coordinated with Mr. Trump’s campaign and the transition team to set up a series of meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and officials in Taiwan, according to disclosure documents filed last week with the Justice Department. Mr. Dole also assisted in Taiwan’s successful efforts to include language favorable to it in the Republican Party platform, according to the documents.

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Mr. Dole’s firm received $140,000 from May to October for the work, according to the documents.

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The documents suggest that President-elect Trump’s decision to take a telephone call from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was less a ham-handed diplomatic gaffe and more the result of a well-orchestrated plan by Taiwan, one that sought to use the election of a new president to deepen its relationship with the United States — with an assist from a seasoned lobbyist well versed in the machinery of Washington.

Mr. Trump’s phone call was a striking break from nearly four decades of diplomatic practice and threatened to precipitate a major rift with China.

The documents were submitted before the call took place and make no mention of it, and it was unclear what role, if any, Mr. Dole played in brokering the specific conversation. A spokeswoman at Alston & Bird said Tuesday that the 93-year-old Mr. Dole, a former Senate majority leader and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, had no immediate comment on his work representing the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, Taiwan’s unofficial embassy and the entity that retained him.

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The effort to involve Mr. Trump’s campaign in a United States delegation to Taiwan, and to facilitate a Taiwanese delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, began earlier this year, according to the documents.

Mr. Dole also arranged a meeting between Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, whom Mr. Trump has chosen to be his attorney general, and Stanley Kao, Taiwan’s envoy to the United States, and convened a meeting between embassy staff members and Mr. Trump’s transition team, the documents say.

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