Targets of U.S. Sanctions Hire Lobbyists With Trump Ties to Seek Relief

“What I know is that it is possible that Giuliani will let us know how to go ahead,” Mr. Balumuene said. He referred additional questions about Mr. Giuliani’s role to the country’s special envoy to Washington, Raymond Tshibanda, who could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Giuliani said he was not serving as an intermediary between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the administration. In an interview in September, he initially said he stopped by the reception for a half-hour to “say hello to people” and to impress a woman with whom he had been dining by taking her “to the top of the Hay-Adams to see a Washington party” with a “great view.”

But he later suggested that he attended at least partly because he was interested in exploring business opportunities, adding, “We’ve always wanted to see what’s Africa all about.”

And someone familiar with Mr. Giuliani’s business affairs said that one of his companies has recently been negotiating a consulting deal to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, possibly through Mer.

In text messages on Sunday, Mr. Giuliani said that “if I do it, it would only be security consulting” similar to what he does in other countries, not lobbying. “Beyond that, I can’t say anything other than you can assume if we are working in a foreign country, we are doing security — physical and cyber, antiterrorism, emergency management.”

It is not clear whether the lobbying overseen by Mer had much effect, and several of Mer’s subcontracts with Trump-linked lobbyists have expired.

Less than a month after the Hay-Adams event, Mr. Kabila announced that he would not seek a third term in presidential elections scheduled for this month. While some Trump administration officials are concerned that the elections are being tilted in favor of Mr. Kabila’s chosen successor, the United States has not leveled additional sanctions against the country since Mr. Kabila’s announcement — an outcome some lobbyists on the account are privately claiming as a victory.

In October, Mer signed a new $200,000 contract with a public relations firm called Sanitas International that was co-founded by Christopher Harvin, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign who had worked in President George W. Bush’s administration. The firm is seeking to demonstrate to the news media that Mr. Kabila does, in fact, intend to step down and hold free and fair elections.