FBI head warns against Trump deal with ZTE
FBI Director Christopher Wray is raising red flags over President Trump’s tweet claiming he is working on restoring the ability of Chinese company ZTE to do business with American firms.
In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, the FBI chief said he is concerned about telecom companies like ZTE, which is closely tied to the Chinese government, being granted access to U.S. markets, Politico reported.
“We at the FBI remain deeply concerned that any company beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values are not companies that we want to be gaining positions of power inside our telecommunications network,” Wray said, according to the news outlet, while declining to name any specific companies.
“That gives them the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, that gives them the capacity to conduct undetected espionage, that gives them the capacity to exert pressure or control,” he added.
Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wanted to help ZTE get “back into business” after the Commerce Department prohibited U.S. companies from dealing with the Chinese firm over its violation of American sanctions on Iran.
Republicans and Democrats reacted to Trump’s tweet with surprise, questioning why Trump would seek to aid the Chinese company.
“I was very surprised and, frankly, concerned by the president’s comments recently, in fact, showing somehow a loosening up of that concern with ZTE,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Wednesday. “I hope they were comments that were misinterpreted or at least there is some other thought given to that.”
“This makes absolutely no sense, in my opinion,” added Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.).
In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee released a report, the result of a yearlong investigation, discouraging the purchase of equipment from ZTE and another Chinese telecom firm, Huawei, over concerns about the two companies’ ties to the Chinese government and their theft of U.S. intellectual property.