Huawei pays Tony Podesta $500,000 to lobby the White House

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Tony Podesta

Rebecca D’Angelo | Washington Post | Getty Images

The Chinese technology giant Huawei, which was included in the US trade blacklist, paid $500,000 to Tony Podesta, a veteran Democratic lobbyist and donor, to lobby the White House in the third quarter.

The disclosure comes at a time when the Biden administration is facing pressure to blacklist Huawei, which limits the company’s access to semiconductors. The lobbying activities took place between July and September.

The specific details of Podesta’s lobbying for Huawei are unclear. Podesta and Huawei did not respond to requests for comment before the release.

The White House criticized Huawei in its response on Thursday and said the company is still subject to trade restrictions.

“President Biden and this administration believe that digital infrastructure equipment manufactured by untrusted suppliers such as Huawei poses a threat to the security of the United States, our allies and partners. Export controls on Huawei still exist,” a White House official Said, when asked about Podesta’s lobbying.

The official added: “We are committed to using a full range of tools to ensure the safety of us and our allies.” “We are in contact with all our partners and allies regarding the risks posed by Huawei, dozens of countries and operations The company has decided to exclude Huawei from its 5G network. We expect this trend to continue.”

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There have been reports that Huawei hired Podesta, but this disclosure provided new clues to the long-term lobbyist’s deal, including his high fees.

A registration form shows that Podesta is known to have ties to the White House and he registered as a Huawei lobby in July. This marked his reopening of lobbying after he left the company in 2017 because his company was under scrutiny during the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

According to the third quarter’s disclosure, Podesta only targeted Huawei’s White House office last quarter. The disclosure form said it was aimed at “problems related to telecommunications services and affected trade issues.” The White House office is managed by the president’s chief of staff, in this case, he is another senior Democratic power figure Ron Klain.

For years, Huawei has been trying to please US officials because it faces accusations that it poses a threat to US national security. As we all know, the Chinese government exerts a great influence on companies in the country, even though Huawei denies that it will provide data to Beijing.

The then President Donald Trump included Huawei on the trade blacklist in 2019. His government subsequently adopted other restrictive measures.

According to data from the Political Center of Non-Party Response, Huawei spent more than US$2 million on lobbying in 2019. At that time, their targets were institutions such as the White House and the Department of Commerce.

The company spent $470,000 on lobbying last year and has invested more than $1 million in impact games so far this year.

Republican lawmakers have been pressing the Biden administration to blacklist Huawei.

Alan Estevez, a former Pentagon official and deputy secretary of commerce nominated by Biden for industry and security, said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing last month that he believes Huawei poses a threat to national security. . He said that if confirmed, he will leave the company on the trade blacklist unless “the situation changes.”

Podesta’s disclosure also occurred after the New York federal prosecutor announced at the end of September that Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou would be released from detention in Canada and was allowed to return to China after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement on wire fraud charges. Meng is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

The White House official said: “This is an enforcement issue that is entirely in the hands of the Department of Justice, not a policy issue.” “As the Department of Justice said, they’based on facts and laws, as well as their assessment of litigation risks, independently communicate with each other. Ms. Meng reached an agreement to postpone the prosecution.'”

The official then referred to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s recent comments on the matter and referred all other issues to the Department of Justice.

Podesta himself has always been a magnet for controversy. NBC News reported in 2019 that federal prosecutors concluded investigations into Tony Podesta and former Representative Vin Weber. The case was related to lobbying Ukraine and Paul Manafort, but no criminal charges were filed.

Before the investigation, Podesta was the leading financier of the Democratic Party. During the 2016 general election, he provided five-figure checks to the Democratic campaign departments of the House of Representatives and Senate. He also contributed to the campaign of then candidate Hillary Clinton. His brother John Podesta is Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Last quarter, a Bulgarian energy company called Protos Energy SSC also paid Podesta US$500,000. According to the disclosure report, the payment was made after “no lobbying activities”.

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