One trend that continues to mark the Trump administration is that of the president going his own way when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy. It’s an established pattern at this point; the president’s campaign season assertion that he consults himself on policy matters has been proven to not have been just empty rhetoric. There has been no sudden shift inside Trump world towards the president operating in line with past precedent.
As one of the latest examples of that trend, the president took to Twitter recently with the latest in what feels like an endless stream of surprise announcements. On the social media platform, he expressed support for the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE, which has been suffering due to penalties the U.S. imposed in retaliation for violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
The president making moves to undercut those penalties has had many officials up in arms. One such official with his own unique take on the matter is FBI Director Christopher Wray, nominated for his present position after Donald Trump dismissed James Comey last year.
Speaking at a Wednesday Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Wray expressed concern that allowing for ZTE to again do business with American companies would pose a national security threat to the United States.
As he explained the situation:
‘We at the FBI remain deeply concerned that any company beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values are not companies that we want to be gaining positions of power inside our telecommunications network. That gives them the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, that gives them the capacity to conduct undetected espionage, that gives them the capacity to exert pressure or control.’
These issues are either ones that the president either did not consider or did not mind ignoring before announcing a softer than before stance towards ZTE. Neither option is particularly reassuring.
As a particularly galling possibility for the reason for the sudden change-of-heart on Donald Trump’s part, it was barely a few days after the Chinese government dished out a massive investment for a Trump-branded Indonesian theme park that he made the ZTE announcement.
Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont pressed Wray about that issue during the Wednesday hearing, but he qualified his remarks by perhaps sarcastically quipping that the correlation was “probably just coincidence.”
What is not conjecture is the fact that security concerns about ZTE products are so great that they recently ceased being sold in retail outlets at U.S. military bases around the world. The telecom giant has previously been banned from doing business with American companies for seven years.
This situation actually is not the first time in recent months that warnings have surfaced about certain foreign-made telecommunications components, although a certain previous situation concerned software and not hardware.
Security software manufactured by Kaspersky Labs was revealed late last year as being suspected of facilitating Russian spying on the United States and other Western interests.
Throughout all of the concurrent situations involving possible foreign intrusion into the United States, President Donald Trump has dragged his feet — to put it lightly — when it’s come to addressing the problems.
Featured Image via Al Drago/ Bloomberg via Getty Images