Jack Kingston, the former Georgia congressman who now serves as an adviser to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has been hired to lobby for a Syrian opposition group that is seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad as the country’s bloody civil war continues.
The group, High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition, is an umbrella organization that represents moderate political and military groups. Last month it announced a transition plan that aims to ultimately put in place democratic elections.
The group retained Kingston, who represented Georgia’s First congressional district from 1993 to 2015, and two other partners at the law and lobby firm Squire Patton Boggs on Sept. 19, according to a lobbying disclosure report. Ed Newberry, the firm’s managing partner, and Jack Deschauer, a former Pentagon official, are also listed on the account.
The trio is working to get U.S. support for the Syrian opposition, according to the disclosure. The hiring was reported earlier by Legistorm.
A spokesman for Squire Patton Boggs did not immediately return a request for comment.
The move comes amid a tumultuous and violent time in Syria, which has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for five years. On Monday, the United States announced it had suspended bilateral talks with Russia that were aimed at achieving a cease-fire in Syria, after new Russian and Syrian attacks in the city of Aleppo. Last month, a United Nations humanitarian aid convoy in Syria was bombed, killing 20 people. U.S. officials have blamed Russia for the attack.
In his role as an adviser to the Trump campaign, Kingston has been a vocal defender of the candidate on the cable news circuit and recently pushed back against criticism directed at the candidates’s son, Donald Trump Jr., after he posted a tweet comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles. Kingston said in an MSNBC interview that Trump Jr. was “making an illustration” and not “comparing refugees to candy at all.”
Most of Trump’s comments regarding Syria during the campaign have focused on his opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to move to the United States. Kingston’s lobbying disclosure makes no reference to any work related to refugee resettlement.
Trump’s position on how the United States should approach the war in Syria is less clear. In May, Trump said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he would have “stayed out of Syria” and would not try to oust Assad. He said he would instead focus solely on attacking the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS.
Trump has called for bombing “the hell” out of ISIS, which is playing a major role in Syria’s civil war, but has provided few details about how this approach would work.