US Democrat Elizabeth Warren slams ex-senator over ‘lobbying’ gig for Chinese tech firm ZTE
- Lawmaker argued on social media for a lifetime ban on former politicians working as lobbyists
Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is eyeing a presidential run, blasted former senator Joseph Lieberman for becoming a lobbyist for ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications equipment maker accused of ties to the Beijing government.
In a tweet posted on Wednesday night, Warren said Lieberman “joined” lobbyists for ZTE, which she wrote had “violated serious US sanctions” against Iran and North Korea.
“Should that be legal? No,” she said, arguing in a subsequent tweet for a lifetime ban on lawmakers working as lobbyists.
Lieberman, who ran unsuccessfully for vice-president as a Democrat in 2000 and Kasowitz Benson Torres, the firm where he is a lobbyist, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
We need a lifetime ban on Members of Congress working as lobbyists to make sure they only serve the public. We need a ban on foreign lobbying so countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have to conduct their foreign policy out in the open. I've proposed both.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 3, 2019
But a lobby registration form released on Wednesday showed Lieberman was “retained to undertake an independent assessment of concerns that members of congress, executive branch and American businesses have about any national security vulnerabilities and risks that ZTE products may pose in the US”.
It said Lieberman would not be lobbying for ZTE, saying he was registered “in the interest of transparency and caution”.
The comments highlighted the debate in Washington about ZTE and Huawei, China’s biggest network equipment companies. The US government claims both companies work at the behest of China’s government and sell equipment capable of spying on Americans, charges both companies deny.
In August, US President Donald Trump signed a bill barring the federal government from using ZTE equipment.
Trump last week was reportedly considering an executive order this year to declare a national emergency, banning American companies from using ZTE and Huawei telecommunications gear.
Warren’s tweets came days after the liberal from Massachusetts formed an exploratory committee that would allow her to begin raising money to compete in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field for the 2020 presidential race.