Democrat lobbyist Tony Podesta is joining Huawei, a Chinese firm known for kowtowing to nations adversarial to the U.S. and maintaining close relations with the Chinese Communist Party, as a consultant to help the tech giant push an agenda on the Biden administration.
According to a report in Politico, Podesta will use his experience and influence in Washington to convince the White House and other U.S. policymakers to lend a listening ear to Huawei’s goals, despite the company’s track record in facilitating surveillance states. Podesta’s former company previously represented the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a CCP-linked company that tried to fund events in the U.S.
Other nations have taken a cautious approach when choosing whether to engage with Huawei. Last summer, the United Kingdom banned the telecom company from building the country’s 5G network infrastructure. Podesta, however, doesn’t seem to mind the company’s checkered past and criticisms from the Trump administration.
Instead, he plans to use his sway to gain ground with other clients in addition to Huawei.
“Podesta is expected to soon pick up more clients. He has known President Joe Biden for decades and is friendly with a number of his advisers. Podesta also lives down the street from former President Barack Obama in the glitzy D.C. neighborhood of Kalorama. His brother John was a counselor for Obama as well as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton,” the Politico report notes.
Huawei has also made headway in hiring former U.S. politicians and other bureaucratic staffers, presumably with the hope that they will be one step closer to negotiating with the White House. Those who have joined so far include a “former Republican congressman from Nebraska; lawyer Stephen Binhak; Glenn LeMunyon, who was an aide to former House GOP Whip Tom DeLay; and the consulting firm J.S. Held.”
“The company also retains white-shoe law firm Steptoe and Johnson, paying them $60,000 in the second quarter, according to a disclosure. And the firm has connections to power brokers throughout the nation’s capital,” Politico noted.
Christopher Fonzone, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also did legal work for the Chinese company while he was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP as early as 2019. Despite his work for Huawei, the Senate confirmed him.