The Atlantic Council is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Atlantic alliance, and international affairs. Spread across fourteen different centers worldwide, the Atlantic Council focuses on a variety of policy issues including climate change, economic development, and advocacy of democracy.
The Atlantic Council hosts small, focused events daily. At most of its daily events the Atlantic Council invites a speaker or a panel of speakers to discuss issues related to the think tank’s focuses. 
The Atlantic Council of the United States was founded in 1961 by former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter to promote Atlanticism (support for a close relationship between the U.S. and Europe) and to encourage U.S. engagement in global politics. Acheson was U.S. Secretary of State from January 21, 1949 to January 20, 1953 under President Harry Truman and supported the formation of NATO in 1949.  Acheson would later serve as an advisor to the Johnson administration on disengagement from the Vietnam War.  Herter co-founded the Middle East Institute in 1947 and served as Secretary of State during President Dwight Eisenhower’s second term from April 22, 1959 to January 20, 1961. 
Atlantic Council president and CEO Frederick Kempe is a former reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal and Wall Street Journal Europe who donated $2,300 to Obama for America in 2008.  The current chairman John F.W. Rogers is the executive vice president of Goldman Sachs and is a long-time donor to the campaigns of various political candidates of both major parties including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-SC), Sen. Daniel S. Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).
The Atlantic Council has two vice chairmen: Adrienne Arsht and Stephen J. Hadley. Arsht is a philanthropist and currently sits on the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.  She has also donated to the political campaigns of Democratic Party candidates including Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami-Dade), former Rep. Lon Johnson, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Hadley served as the National Security Advisor of the United States from 2005 to 2009 during the George W. Bush administration.  Hadley has donated to both Republican Party and Democratic Party candidates. He has donated $5,500 to U.S. Representative Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) political campaigns since 2016 and over $1,500 to the political campaigns of Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) since 2020. 
The Atlantic Council has fourteen centers, each of which focus on a particular area of policy. Each center publishes policy papers and engages in education and research. 
The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security advocates for less troop deployment, more diplomacy efforts, and increasing intelligence funding.  The Adrienne Arsht – Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center researches climate change policy.  The GeoEconomics Center encourages a globalized economy through research on global economics topics.  The Digital Forensic Research Lab researches human rights issues and the spread of misinformation.  The Global Energy Center researches renewable energy.  The Millennium Leadership Program encourages youth leadership and engagement in policy issues.  The GeoTech Center encourages Atlanticism through the widespread use of new technology. 
The Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East programs focuses on security threats and international relations in Iran and Israel.  The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center encourages Latin American participation in Atlanticism.  The Africa Center encourages economic growth in Africa and publishes a newsletter called AfricaSource, which provides the opinions of Africa Center researchers on current events in Africa.  The Eurasia Center encourages democracy and democratic values in Eastern Europe.  The Europe Center encourages U.S. action in Europe to promote democracy and economic growth.  The South Asia Center promotes dialogue and diplomacy between the United States and both European and Asian countries.  Based in Istanbul, Turkey, the Atlantic Council in Turkey researches policy issues in Turkey and promotes dialogue between Turkey and the United States. 
Blue Star Strategies, which is owned by Atlantic Council board member Sally Painter, is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for potential illegal lobbying on behalf of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company.  Blue Star Strategies accepted Burisma as a client while Hunter Biden was on the board to help improve Burisma’s reputation after facing allegations of corruption.  Painter and former Atlantic Council board member Karen Tramontano created a partnership between Atlantic Council and Burisma, and the investigation may show whether Painter and Tramontano took advantage of their positions at Atlantic Council. 
Just four months after Painter helped establish an agreement between Burisma and Atlantic Council in 2017, she was appointed to the Atlantic Council board of directors.  From 2017 to 2019, Burisma donated $300,000 to Atlantic Council.  Blue Star Strategies helped to coordinate Atlantic Council forums where Burisma officials spoke as panelists, and Burisma funded an energy conference in Ukraine in 2018 where Atlantic Council associates spoke.  State Department official George Kent stated in an email from Jan. 13, 2017 that Painter and Tramontano were the “probably pushers” of the agreement between Burisma and Atlantic Council.  Kent also claimed to have warned John Herbst, an official at Atlantic Council, about taking money from Burisma because of allegations of corruption against the company. 
Nord Stream 2 Pipeline
Atlantic Council board member Richard Burt and distinguished fellow Frances Burwell are both partners at McLarty Inbound, a consulting firm that lobbies for foreign companies.  Founded to strengthen NATO and the Atlantic alliance, the Atlantic Council does not hold one position on policy issues but allows “its many fellows/researchers to take diverse points of view.”  Burt and Burwell have allegedly used their positions at Atlantic Council to promote their work at McLarty Inbound, specifically on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will “transport gas from Russia to Germany.”  While at public Atlantic Council events, Burt has defended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and he has allegedly promoted the pipeline in private discussions with fellows of the think tank.  Burwell defended the pipeline in a major media interview where she was introduced as a fellow of Atlantic Council, but not a partner at McLarty Inbound. 
While Nord Stream 2 AG, the company building the pipeline, is based in Germany, it is owned by Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state.  Five other European companies are major lenders to the project, including Shell International, ENGIE, OMV Aktiengesellschaft, Uniper SE, and Wintershall Dea.  In the first quarter of 2021, the five companies paid McLarty $210,000 to lobby the State Department and National Security Council after already paying McLarty $840,000 in 2020 and total of $2,840,000 since 2017.  The two lobbyists named on the contract between the five donors and McLarty were Burt and Burwell, who have already used their positions at Atlantic Council to promote the pipeline. 
Two of the companies lending to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project have also donated to Atlantic Council. ENGIE North America, the American subsidiary of the French ENGIE Group, donated between $25,000 and $49,000 to Atlantic Council in 2019, which is the most recent year the organization has reported its donors.  Uniper SE paid Atlantic Council between $25,000 and $49,999 as a sponsor for the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum held in 2021.  Despite the controversy and concerns about conflicts of interest, a spokesperson for the Atlantic Council has said that both Burt and Burwell will remain on the board as the organization welcomes “diverse views, input, and debate.” 
In 2019, the Atlantic Council received $21,772,164 in grants and donations.  Its largest donors included Adrienne Arsht, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, the Rockefeller Foundation, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.