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Rubio, Sasse, Cotton on Opposition to Fonzone Nomination

May 27, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and fellow committee members U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) were among the four members who voted against advancing Mr. Christopher Fonzone, a Biden Administration nominee who has done legal work for Huawei, to serve as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

“Any nominee who is up for a key national security post and comes from a law firm or other entity that performs work for the Chinese Communist Party or a Chinese state-directed entity like Huawei requires extra scrutiny,” Rubio said. “Mr. Fonzone’s work on behalf of Huawei and China’s Ministry of Commerce may have been technical in nature but it raises serious questions about his judgement and decision making, especially considering his previous national security roles in government. His evasiveness and unwillingness to answer direct questions on the real nature of the Chinese threat is disqualifying, especially given the importance of the position President Biden has nominated him to fill. Moving forward, I hope those that wish to enter or return to public service will think more carefully about working on behalf of clients who exploit our legal system in an effort to weaken and ultimately replace America on the world stage.”

“You can’t work for Huawei and then work for the Director of National Intelligence,” Sasse said. “After Mr. Fonzone left President Obama’s National Security Council, he did legal work for Huawei. He knew exactly who Huawei is and he knew that he didn’t have to take their money. In fact, today he told the committee that he had declined to work on certain cases for ethical reasons — but he didn’t decline Huawei and I’m not sure how on earth it’s ethical to work for a company that’s an key player in the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide of the Uyghurs. He says that he was just helping them understand American regulations, but he knows full well that the Chinese Communist Party isn’t interested in following the law — they’re interested in skirting the law. Even today Mr. Fonzone still refuses to commit to not work for the CCP or national champion clients like Huawei after leaving his next stint in government. Mr. Fonzone has impressive national security experience and that is exactly what makes his extremely poor judgement so concerning.”

“Mr. Fonzone left the National Security Council and represented a company that is key to the Chinese Communist Party’s military and espionage apparatus—then refused to commit to avoiding any such conflict of interest if confirmed for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” Cotton said. “The United States must take unified steps to combat the CCP, not put its allies in positions of power with access to sensitive information.”