Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Huawei's U.S. security chief Andy Purdy says the U.S. is right to want to make sure its networks are secure. But he maintains that, in the quarrel the Trump administration has picked with his company, it has focused on the wrong things and mixed up trade issues with security concerns.

What they're saying: "I don’t trust anybody. We cannot and should not trust anybody," said Purdy, who was an assistant U.S. attorney and acting director of the U.S. national cybersecurity division before joining Huawei in 2012. "That’s the way we make America safer."

Details: Rather than simply exclude Huawei from U.S. networks, Purdy encouraged the government to sit down with the Chinese network vendor and create a system to ensure its products are safe.

  • "There are ways to test products for back doors," he said, adding that wireless carriers, not network equipment vendors, are in charge of the data and are vigorously ensuring it isn't leaving their hands.

Context: The U.S. has been increasingly cracking down on Huawei, which it characterizes as both a security risk and an intellectual property thief.

  • The largest American phone carriers have long been been effectively prohibited from using Huawei gear.
  • But in recent weeks the Trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure, excluding U.S. companies from most business with Huawei. That has hurt the company's business prospects globally, and could stop its fast-growing device business in its tracks.

Purdy also lamented the fact that concerns over Huawei are being mixed in with the broader U.S.-China trade dispute.

  • "We don’t want to be part of trade talks," Purdy said. "We don’t like [the] fact that we are kind of in the middle."

The other side: Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging that the Huawei issue be kept separate from trade discussions.

  • "In no way should Huawei be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations," they wrote. "Instead, the U.S. should redouble our efforts to present our allies with compelling data on why the long-term network security and maintenance costs on Chinese telecommunications equipment offset any short-term cost savings."

Our thought bubble: Huawei may decry the mixing of trade and security concerns — and that indeed seems like bad national security policy. But being a pawn in trade talks might not be so bad for the company: Huawei could benefit if China makes looser restrictions on Huawei a part of a demand in future bargaining.

Meanwhile, market research firm IHS says the U.S. ban is already having a significant revenue impact on some U.S. component suppliers, including memory maker Micron and hard drive maker Western Digital.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!