Sen. Tom Cotton urged U.S. companies to shun Huawei, the Chinese tech firm loathed by conservatives, after a report that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was encouraging the opposite.
The Arkansas Republican launched his rebuttal to Mnuchin in response to a report from The Wall Street Journal that Mnuchin was encouraging American companies to seek licenses from Huawei, which President Donald Trump has exempted from a blacklist as long as sales don’t jeopardize national security.
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“I strongly discourage any American company from seeking licenses to deal with Huawei,” Cotton said on Twitter. “Huawei is a threat to Americans’ security, privacy, & prosperity. Don’t be the proverbial capitalist who sells the rope the communists will hang us with.”
The Treasury Department disputed that Mnuchin was urging companies to do business with Huawei, but the administration has softened its previous hard-line stance to the Chinese tech giant, aggravating Republicans such as Cotton and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said Mnuchin “speaks with CEOs in the private sector on a regular basis. At no point has the Secretary ‘urged’ any company to take any action with regard to Huawei. The notion that Secretary Mnuchin pushed for companies to apply for these licenses is factually inaccurate.”