A Biden Administration nominee for legal counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has previously worked for the Chinese government. In 2018 Christopher Fonzone is known to have been employed by both the Chinese tech company Huawei and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Republican Senators are opposing his nomination, arguing that employment by an arm of the Chinese Communist Party regime should disqualify Fonzone.
Biden nominee worked for Huawei
Senator Ben Sasse led the questioning of the nominee on behalf of the Republican Senators who oppose his candidacy currently.
Sasse confronted Fonzone on the connections between Huawei and the Chinese government, asking how he could be trusted by American intelligence after being employed by the company.
Huawei has been targeted with sanctions from the United States and is often accused of enabling spying in America on behalf of the CCP. The company claims that it is completely unaffiliated with Chinese intelligence.
Christopher Fonzone also claimed that his past work for that company was completely innocent, telling Senator Sasse that he had only briefly provided advice on United States law to the foreign company.
The nominee, who was a legal advisor to the National Security Council during the Obama Administration, claimed that he had spent less than ten hours working with Huawei.
Senator Sasse countered by asking Fonzone how someone with a history of national security work could have been ignorant of the reputation which Huawei has in the United States intelligence community for being linked to Chinese spying operations.
A potential national security risk
Even if the company is not directly involved with Chinese intelligence operations, Chinese law would require Huawei to hand over any relevant information which the government requests.
For Senator Sasse and other Senate Republicans, any connection to Huawei is concerning for a nominee who hopes to hold an important position in the United States intelligence community.
Along with Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Sasse stated after the hearing that Fonzone should be considered a national security risk given his ties to the Chinese tech company.
The three expressed strong opposition to the nominee and announced that they would be working to oppose his confirmation.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence maintains that Huawei is a potential national security threat due to the likelihood of it being used for Chinese spying operations.
To have a nominee for legal counsel who has admitted to being employed by this company, however briefly, may prove to be a headache for those who support the confirmation of Fonzone.