Chinese telecommunications company ZTE hired a former member of the Trump campaign as a lobbyist amid negotiations with President Trump to loosen restrictions hampering the company’s ability to do business with the U.S.
The Daily Beast reported that the company hired Bryan Lanza, a former adviser to both the Trump campaign and Trump’s White House transition team, just a day after the president tweeted that he was considering helping ZTE regain access to American markets.
“President Xi [Jinping] of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump tweeted last month.
Weeks later, the Trump administration announced a tentative deal to ease the restrictions on the company, a move that faces sharp opposition in Congress. The deal follows a ban from the Commerce Department on any American companies selling selling parts to ZTE, a move that the company says will force it out of business without relief.
Lanza came to work for ZTE through Mercury Public Affairs, a Washington lobbying firm that reported its new client in a May 24 document in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The firm said it would “perform government relations and public affairs services, including setting up meetings with U.S. government officials related to U.S. sanctions” on ZTE’s behalf, according to the Daily Beast.
A spokesman for the lobbying firm told the Daily Beast that “like any company of its size, [ZTE] faces various challenges and we are helping them from a public affairs perspective to manage those issues.”
The Commerce Department issued the ban on American firms doing business with ZTE earlier this year after it accused the company of violating sanctions with Iran. ZTE officials have called the punishment unfair.
Trump in defending a potential deal with the company noted it provides a lot of business to American companies.
Lanza, who is reportedly still in communication with White House officials, was reported last month to also be helping a Russian company owned by a sanctioned oligarch lobby the Trump administration to lift penalties against the firm.
June 02, 2018