Huawei paid Tony Podesta $ 500,000 for the White House lobby

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Tony Podesta

Rebecca D’Angelo | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Huawei, the Chinese tech giant blacklisted in U.S. commerce, paid veteran Democratic lobbyist and financier Tony Podesta $ 500,000 to lobby the White House in the third quarter.

The disclosure comes as the Biden government faces pressure to blacklist Huawei, which limits the company’s access to semiconductors. The lobbying took place between July and September.

The details of Podesta’s lobbying campaign for Huawei were not clear. Podesta and Huawei did not respond to any requests for comment prior to publication.

The White House criticized Huawei in a response Thursday, saying the company was still subject to trade restrictions.

President Biden and this administration believe that digital infrastructure devices from untrustworthy providers like Huawei pose a threat to the security of the US, our allies and our partners. Export controls against Huawei remain in place, ”a White House official said. when asked about Podesta’s lobbying work.

“We strive to use the full range of our tools to protect ourselves and our allies,” added the official. “We are talking to all of our partners and allies about the risks posed by Huawei, and dozens of countries and carriers have decided to ban Huawei from their 5G networks. And we expect this trend to continue. “

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Huawei’s hiring of Podesta has previously been reported, but the disclosure sheds new light on the longtime lobbyist’s dealings, including his hefty fee.

Podesta, known to have White House ties, registered as a lobby for Huawei in July, according to a registration form. It marked his return to lobbying after he left the company in 2017 when his company underwent rigorous scrutiny in the investigation by Special Adviser Robert Mueller.

Podesta only targeted the White House office for Huawei in the final quarter, according to the third quarter disclosure. The disclosure form states that it concerns “Telecommunications Service Issues and Trade Issues Affected”. The White House office is headed by the President’s Chief of Staff, who in this case is Ron Klain, another veteran Democratic power player.

For years, Huawei has tried to flatter itself with American officials on allegations that it posed a threat to US national security. China’s government is known to have great influence over the country’s businesses, despite Huawei denying giving Beijing data.

Then-President Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei for trading in 2019. His government followed with other restrictions.

Huawei spent over $ 2 million on lobbying in 2019, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. At the time, they targeted the White House and the Department of Commerce, among others.

The company spent $ 470,000 on lobbying last year and has invested over $ 1 million in the game of influence so far this year.

Republican lawmakers have generally put pressure on the Biden government to blacklist Huawei.

Alan Estevez, Biden’s candidate for Trade Minister for Industry and Security and a former Pentagon official, said at a hearing in the Senate Banking Committee last month that he viewed Huawei as a threat to national security. If confirmed, he said he would blacklist the company unless “things change”.

Podesta’s disclosure also came after New York federal prosecutors announced in late September that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou could be released from custody in Canada and returned to China after an agreement was reached on a postponed prosecution for wire fraud. Meng is also the daughter of the Huawei founder.

“This was a law enforcement matter that was entirely in the hands of the Justice Department – not a political matter,” the White House official said. “As the Justice Department said, they ‘made the decision to independently offer a deferred prosecution arrangement with Ms. Meng based on the facts and the law and a litigation risk assessment.'”

The official then referred to recent comments made by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and referred all other questions to the Justice Department.

Podesta itself was a magnet for controversy. NBC News reported in 2019 that federal prosecutors closed an investigation into Tony Podesta and former MP Vin Weber, R-Minn., In a case related to lobbying for Ukraine and Paul Manafort without filing a criminal complaint.

Prior to the investigation, Podesta was a major financier of the Democratic Party. During the 2016 election, he gave five-digit checks to both House and Senate Democrats’ campaign arms. He also contributed to the campaign for then-candidate Hillary Clinton. His brother John Podesta was Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Podesta also received an additional $ 500,000 last quarter from a Bulgarian energy company called Protos Energy SSC. This payment came after “no lobbying” activity, according to the disclosure report.


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