Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta, received $500,000 from a blacklisted Chinese tech giant to lobby the White House from July through September, records show.
The Chinese tech company, Huawei, paid Tony Podesta to lobby the White House on “issues related to telecommunication services and impacted trade issues,” according to a lobbying disclosure form filed Wednesday, CNBC reported.
Former President Donald Trump placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May 2019. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission designated Huawei a national security threat in 2020 due to its “close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus,” Fox Business reported. The Justice Department also charged Huawei with 13 counts of fraud in January 2019 and conspiracy to steal trade secrets in February 2020.
Huawei hired Tony Podesta in July to help curry favor for the company with President Joe Biden’s administration, according to Politico.
The White House defended the federal government’s trade restrictions against Huawei in a statement to CNBC.
“President Biden and this administration believe digital infrastructure equipment made by untrustworthy vendors, like Huawei, pose a threat to the security of the U.S., our allies, and our partners. Export controls against Huawei remain in place,” a White House official told the outlet.
“We are committed to using the full range of our tools to keep us and our allies secure,” the official added. “We are engaging with all of our partners and allies on the risks posed by Huawei and dozens of countries and carriers have made the decision to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks. And we expect this trend to continue.”
Tony Podesta’s role lobbying for the Chinese tech giant is a return to form for the Democratic donor. He stepped down from his previous lobbying firm, The Podesta Group, in 2017 after becoming a subject of investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller for his alleged failure to properly report his lobbying activities on behalf of Ukraine.
The Podesta group shut down in 2017 amid the investigation.
Investigators closed their investigation into Tony Podesta in 2019 without bringing any criminal charges.
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