President-elect Donald Trump brushed off criticism that resulted from a phone conversation he had with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2 -- a communication that broke 37-years of U.S. foreign policy protocol, as the United States has no formal relationship with the east Asia state. Tuesday, it was reported that former Sen. Bob Dole helped facilitate a relationship between Taipei and Trump between May and October. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A law firm that employs former Republican Sen. Bob Dole was paid nearly $150,000 by the Taiwanese government to foster a relationship between it and President-elect Donald Trump -- despite potentially severe political repercussions, according to a government filing.
Dole, a lobbyist for the Washington, D.C., law firm Alston & Bird, acted as an agent for Taiwan for months in setting up a relationship between both parties, the documents said.
Trump caused an international stir last week when he spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen by telephone, despite the lack of any formal diplomatic ties between her government and the United States.
Formal relations were cut in 1979 when former President Jimmy Carter closed the Taipei embassy and declared China the official diplomatic authority for the east Asian state.
Dole's role in the six-month campaign was disclosed by Alston & Bird last month in a required filing with the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the documents, Alston & Bird was paid $140,000 between May and October for the work -- an average of a little more than $20,000 per month.
Trump's campaign said the phone call was initiated by Tsai and was only made to discuss his election victory and ways to improve ties between both governments.
Former Sen. Bob Dole (L) chats with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18. Tuesday, it was learned that Dole, a lobbyist with ties to Taiwan, worked for six months with the Taipei government to foster a relationship with the president-elect. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Experts, though, noted that such a conversation with a lack of formal relations has the potential to upset Beijing, which is a major political and economic influence globally and for the United States.
Trump subsequently downplayed the call by emphasizing it was Tsai who called him.
Critics pointed to the event as a political gaffe reflective of Trump's lack of foreign policy experience, but the Justice Department filing suggests it was instead the result of a sophisticated monthslong developmental effort.
As a lobbyist, Dole represents the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States -- an unofficial diplomatic office that facilitates relations between the two countries.
The documents were filed before the phone call, making it unclear what role, if any, Dole played in setting up the actual phone call.
Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996 and had two separate stints as majority leader, made no immediate comment on the matter Tuesday. He also served in the House for six years and ran for president as the Republican nominee in 1996, ultimately losing in a landslide to President Bill Clinton.