Elliott Abrams (born January 24, 1948) is an American diplomat and lawyer who has served in foreign policy positions for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Abrams is considered to be a neoconservative. He is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. On January 25, 2019, he was appointed as Special Representative for Venezuela.
He is best known for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration, which led to his conviction in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress. He was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush.
During George W. Bush's first term, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. At the start of Bush's second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, in charge of promoting Bush's strategy of "advancing democracy abroad." In the Bush administration, Abrams was a key architect behind the Iraq War.
- As Assistant Secretary of State, Abrams advocated for aid to Guatemala under then dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Ríos Montt came to power via a coup in 1982, overcoming the forces of General Fernando Romeo Lucas García. Thirty years later, Ríos Montt was found guilty of overseeing a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people, genocide, in Guatemala. Ríos Montt, who claimed he had no operational control of the forces involved, was convicted of genocide against the Maya-Ixil population.
- Abrams frequently defended the human rights record of the El Salvador government and attacked human rights groups as communist sympathizers when they criticized the El Salvador government. In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote Massacre of hundreds of civilians by the military in El Salvador began appearing in U.S. media, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reported number of deaths at El Mozote "was not credible," reasoning that the reported number of deaths was greater than the likely population, and that there were survivors. He said that "it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas." The massacre had come at a time when the Reagan administration was attempting to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran military. Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda and denounced U.S. investigative reports of the massacre as misleading. In March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that over 500 civilians were "deliberately and systematically" executed in El Mozote in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran government.
- When Congress shut down funding for the Contras' efforts to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government with the 1982 Boland Amendment, members of the Reagan administration began looking for other avenues for funding the group. Congress opened a couple of such avenues when it modified the Boland Amendment for fiscal year 1986 by approving $27 million in direct aid to the Contras and allowing the administration to legally solicit funds for the Contras from foreign governments. Neither the direct aid, nor any foreign contributions, could be used to purchase weapons.
- The London Observer said that Abrams had advance knowledge of, and "gave a nod to," the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 against Hugo Chávez.