Huawei hiring Tony Podesta, lobbyist brother of former top Obama aide, to woo Biden admin: report

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The Chinese telecom giant Huawei is hiring Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta – the brother of former top Obama aide John Podesta – in an effort to help improve its ties with the Biden administration, Politico reported. 

Podesta, who Politico reports will serve as an all-purpose lobbyist for the company in Washington, will have his work cut out for him. The president has taken a hardline stance against the controversial Chinese company. 

Huawei was designated a national security threat by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year because of its "close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus," according to former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. 

"We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure," Pai also said last year.  

August 2, 2011: Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta at an event to celebrate the marriage of lawyer Jack Einwechter to former Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif. (Photo by Rebecca D’Angelo/For the Washington Post) (Photo by Rebecca D’Angelo/For the Washington Post / Getty Images)

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The FCC doubled down on its designation of Huawei as a threat this year under the Biden administration. And President Biden has taken a tough stance against Huawei, especially on its efforts to help install 5G equipment in U.S.-allied countries. 

"Telecommunications equipment made by untrusted vendors is a threat to the security of the U.S. and our allies," a Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) spokesperson told FOX Business earlier this month. That bureau is housed within the Department of Commerce.

"We will ensure that American telecommunications networks do not use equipment from untrusted vendors and will work with allies to secure their telecommunications networks and make investments to expand the production of telecommunications equipment by trusted U.S. and allied companies," the spokesperson also said. "Huawei’s ties to China’s military, human rights abuses, and theft of intellectual property are a source of deep concern, and the U.S. government is committed to taking regulatory action to ensure our policies reflect that concern."

Neither Podesta nor Huawei immediately responded to requests for comment from FOX Business. 

Podesta, who has long been a creature of Democratic politics in Washington and whose brother was also former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, could be in a unique position to weild influence among the president's top aides. 

Democratic politics has moved to the left in recent years and young progressives are taking over in many places. But Biden's inner circle still consists mainly of the party's old guard who will know Tony Podesta from their time in the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Podesta's return to lobbying also marks an effort to rebuild his career after he was forced to out of the lobbying game. He was ensnared in the Mueller investigation for allegedly not properly disclosing his lobbying on behalf of Ukranian interests in work with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Podesta was never charged but ceased his D.C. work.

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But after Biden took the White House Podesta, who had been subsisting on income from his art collection, told the New York Times earlier this month that he is interested in working again. 

"I don’t want to recreate what I had, but I sort of miss working, and art alone doesn’t sustain me, because I love politics," he told The Times. 

FOX Business' Breck Dumas contributed to this report. 

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