WASHINGTON (AP) — Last week's telephone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan's president was the result of six months of behind-the-scenes work by former Sen. Bob Dole acting on behalf of the Taiwanese government, according to federal filings and published reports.
The call was a breach of diplomatic protocol, and Trump advisers have made conflicting statements about whether it signaled a new policy toward China. Taiwan split from China in 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory and would consider it unacceptable for the U.S. to recognize Taiwan's leader as a head of state.
Dole, who is now a lobbyist at the Washington firm Alston & Byrd and a registered foreign agent representing Taiwan, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that his firm helped arrange the call.
"It's fair to say that we may have had some influence," Dole told The Journal.
The work by Dole, a former Senate Republican leader and the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, was disclosed in documents filed Nov. 30 with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Act section. The extent of Dole's work as a registered foreign agent for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which serves as an embassy-like entity for Taiwan, was reported Tuesday by Buzzfeed News and The New York Times.
According to the filings, Dole has lobbied for a closer relationship with Taiwan over the past six months by pushing for the Trump campaign to participate in a U.S. delegation to the island and working to arrange a Taiwanese delegation at the Republican National Convention.
Dole reported that he set up a briefing call on Taiwan for the Trump campaign's policy director, convened a meeting between Taiwanese embassy staff and the Trump presidential transition team and helped to include language in the GOP platform supportive of Taiwan.
Dole also set up a meeting between a Taiwanese official and Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is Trump's pick for attorney general.
The filings show that Alston & Bird received $140,000 from May to October for the work.
The phone call between Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen was a break from nearly four decades of diplomatic practice and drew immediate complaints from China.