Ex-counterintelligence official warns Trump administration not to be shortsighted on Huawei

Former Obama-era counterintelligence official Nate Synder warned Tuesday that the Trump administration should not take any short-cuts on its approach to Huawei.

“They are insidiously smart,” Synder, who is now a senior adviser for Cambridge Global Advisors, told Hill.TV of the Chinese telecommunications giant.

“They are playing a long play here and they’re looking at all different angles,” he added, noting that Huawei is building a 5G network across Russia and China. “I hope the administration doesn’t look at the short-sightedness of just saving profits and revenue.”

Synder’s comments come just a day after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that the Trump administration is again delaying a penalty on Huawei until Nov. 19. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE in May first directed the Commerce Department in May to place Huawei on its “Entity List.” The move was seen as a death sentence for U.S. companies, who, under the guidance, are banned from doing business with the firm.

“It is another 90 days for the U.S. telecom companies,” Ross told Fox Business Network on Monday.

Ross explained that the extended deadline is aimed at preventing further disruption and to give rural companies who are dependent on Huawei "a little more time to wean themselves off."

The U.S. has long considered Huawei a national security threat because of its ties with the Chinese government.

Synder told Hill.TV that U.S. intelligence officials have every reason to be concerned, pointing to the ongoing Hong Kong protests.

“They were using the data and network against people in a state-sponsored way, so you’re talking about almost infinite resources to go after folks,” he said, referring to the Chinese government. “You look at that reputation and behavior and I don’t think we’re going to see all of a sudden a clean slate from them on good behavior when it comes to Huawei.”

Both Twitter and Facebook have accused China of spreading disinformation in an attempt to undermine recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it had identified 936 accounts originally from China that were "deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord,” and added it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled media outlets as a result.

Facebook, meanwhile, said it removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts from the platform after conducting its own internal investigation. More than 15,000 Facebook users were estimated to follow the Chinese-backed pages that have since been removed.

—Tess Bonn