GOP senators oppose Biden intelligence nominee who did legal work for Huawei

Business News
Spread the love


Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks to the Senate subway after a vote in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Three Republican senators have jointly voiced opposition to a Biden administration nominee for legal counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence because of his past work for Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Of the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, four voted against Christopher Fonzone’s nomination, including senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

“You can’t work for Huawei and then work for the Director of National Intelligence,” Sasse said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence is the head of the U.S. intelligence community and acts as the principal intelligence advisor to the president, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council.

Fonzone served as legal adviser to the National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s second term. He joined law firm Sidley Austin, which also does lobbying work, in November 2017, and did legal work for China’s Ministry of Commerce and Huawei — though fewer than 50 billable hours for each, according to a questionnaire he filled out for the committee.

When Huawei was under U.S. regulatory scrutiny in 2019, at least three attorneys from Sidley Austin were registered to lobby on behalf of the Chinese company, according to the National Law Journal.

Huawei did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Blacklist

I did a de minimis amount of work, less than 10 hours, to explain how U.S. administrative law works, I provided it to my partners, and … I’ve had no follow up since then.

Christopher Fonzone

Nominee for general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Fonzone said his work for Huawei would not affect his ability to give objective legal advice to the ODNI.

“The firm asked me to look into a question of how U.S. law works. I did a de minimis amount of work, less than 10 hours, to explain how U.S. administrative law works, I provided it to my partners, and … I’ve had no follow up since then,” he said at a May 18 hearing.

Senator Sasse argued that Fonzone “knows full well that the Chinese Communist Party isn’t interested in following the law,” but is interested in “skirting” it.

‘Conflict of interest’

Rubio said in the joint statement that Fonzone’s work on behalf of Huawei and China’s Ministry of Commerce in 2018 “raises serious questions about his judgment and decision making.”

“Any nominee who is up for a key national security post and comes from a law firm or other entity that performs work for the Chinese Communist Party or a Chinese state-directed entity like Huawei requires extra scrutiny,” said Rubio, who is also vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The United States must take unified steps to combat the CCP, not put its employees and contractors in positions of power with access to sensitive information.



Source link

Leave a Reply