Elliott Abrams, born 24 January 1948, as been Director of National Endowment For Democracy Inc since January 2014. Mr. Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, D.C. He served as Deputy Assistant to the president and Deputy National Security Adviser in the administration, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House as well as democracy, human rights, and international organizations directorates of the NSC. Early in his career, served the staffs of Sen.
He served as an Assistant Secretary of state in the Reagan administration. From 1996 to 2001, he served as President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and chairman of the commission in the latter year, and in 2012, served membership for another term. He is also a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.
Mr. Abrams was educated at Harvard College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. After serving on the staffs of Sens. Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan, he was an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration and received the secretary of state’s Distinguished Service Award from Secretary George P. Shultz. In 2012, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy gave him its Scholar-Statesman Award.
Mr. Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, from 1996 until joining the White House staff. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and chairman of the commission in the latter year, and in 2012 was reappointed to membership for another term. Mr. Abrams is also a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Mr. Abrams joined the Bush administration in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director of the NSC for democracy, human rights, and international organizations. From December 2002 to February 2005, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African affairs. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy from February 2005 to January 2009, and in that capacity supervised both the Near East and North African Affairs and the democracy, human rights, and international organizations directorates of the NSC.
He is the author of four books, Undue Process (1993), Security and Sacrifice (1995), Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America (1997), and Tested by Zion: the Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2013); and the editor of three more,Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense and “Just War” Today; Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy; and The Influence of Faith: Religion and American Foreign Policy.
Elliot Abrams became the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs in 1985. Along with NSC staff member Oliver North and CIA agent Alan Fiers, Jr., he dealt with Central American issues as part of the Restricted Interagency Group (RIG). In his work at RIG, Abrams was made aware of North’s covert military support for the Contras and encouraged foreign countries to contribute to the rebel group, though he later denied that knowledge and involvement when testifying before Congress.
North first exposed Abrams’s knowledge in his testimony before the Select Iran-Contra Committees in 1987. His claims were later verified by Fiers after he pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress in 1991, and were further underscored by written documentation, including notes by State Department officials Charles Hill and Nicholas Platt and U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Edwin Corr. At multiple RIG meetings in 1986, North listed each action he was performing to aid the Contras, including aircraft descriptions and salaries paid. North asked if his activities should be continued, and Fiers said that they should be in Abrams’s presence.
In addition, when it appeared that summer that the $27 million Congress approved for humanitarian aid would be insufficient, Abrams and Fiers urged North to make use of his network of private contacts (which they referred to as Project Democracy) to raise $2 million to feed the Contras, which North promised to do. North recorded their request in a memo he sent to National Security Adviser John Poindexter.
After CIA employee Eugene Hasenfus’s plane was shot down in October 1986 while delivering supplies to the Contras, Congress questioned Abrams. He told Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN), who asked how the Contras were continuing to receive financial and military support, “it is not our supply system. It is one that grew up after we were forbidden from supplying the resistance, and we have been kind of careful not to get closely involved with it and to stay away from it.” Abrams also told House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) that the government was not involved in any way with the supply of the Contras and that the involvement was limited to standard intelligence monitoring.
In addition, although Abrams told Secretary of State George Shultz that he should solicit funds for the Contras at a meeting with Sultan of Brunei, Shultz declined to do so. As a result, Abrams requested an offshore bank account number from Fiers and solicited the $10 million from Brunei’s defense minister himself. The Sultan transferred the money and sent the State Department the following cable: “This is to confirm that [Defense Minister] General Ibnu assures me arrangements have been consummated.” However, when John Kerry (D-MA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked if Abrams knew of any foreign country that financially supported the Contras, he replied, “I don’t know. But not that I am aware of and not through us.”
Abrams pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress in 1991. His plea was based upon these three discussions with members of Congress. He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. However, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams.
Elliott Abrams Named Special Envoy to Venezuela 2019
Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. diplomat who was convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, was appointed as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s new special envoy for Venezuela.
“Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country,” Pompeo told reporters in an announcement on Friday, according to Reuters.
Pompeo also reportedly said Abrams would accompany him to the United Nations on Saturday for a Security Council meeting on Venezuela. According to Reuters, Abrams told reporters the current situation in Venezuela—where current President Nicolas Maduro faces massive opposition protests—“deep, difficult and dangerous.” This week, President Trump backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president of the country.
Abrams was convicted of two counts of “withholding information from Congress” during the Iran-Contra scandal while working as assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration. He was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush, and worked for President George W. Bush as a national-security advisor.
- Elliott Abrams Biography and Profile (Goodreadbiography / Brown)