Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela

Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela
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A bipartisan pair of senators is asking the White House to look into whether the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE violated U.S. sanctions by helping Venezuela track and monitor its citizens.

In a letter shared with The Hill, Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight Peace Corps' sudden decision to leave China stirs blowback Lawmakers raise concerns over Russia's growing influence in Venezuela MORE (R-Fla.) write that they are concerned that, by building a database to help Venezuela track its citizens, ZTE "may have violated U.S. export controls and sanctions laws" as well as an agreement between the Commerce Department and ZTE reached earlier this year.


The letter was set to be sent to the White House on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report, and follows a Reuters investigation revealing ZTE was helping Venezuela build a database to track its citizens through identification cards.

The letter is addressed to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dem anxiety grows ahead of Super Tuesday Pompeo expects US-Taliban agreement to be signed on Feb. 29 The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis Ross2020 census to run ads on 'Premio lo Nuestro' Can the US slap tariffs on auto imports? Not anymore On The Money: Slowing economy complicates 2020 message for Trump | Tech confronts growing impact of coronavirus | Manufacturing rises after five-month contraction MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Bloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law MORE.

The senators in the letter request that the White House find out whether ZTE worked with any Venezuelan officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. and whether ZTE helped Venezuela undermine democratic processes or violate human rights.

The Trump administration earlier this year placed sanctions on several people close to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including his wife and vice president.

Van Hollen and Rubio are also asking the White House to assess whether ZTE violated U.S. export controls by installing data storage units in Venezuela built by Dell technologies and to assess whether ZTE's work in Venezuela breached its agreement with the Commerce Department.

That deal lifted a ban on American companies selling to ZTE, but the deal also allowed the Commerce Department to reimpose the ban if ZTE violated terms of the agreement.

Van Hollen and Rubio requested in their letter that the White House respond within 30 days.