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The Huawei logo, taken from the firm's Istanbul office. Photo: Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. has made its first threat to curtail sharing intelligence with an ally if that government ignores U.S. warnings about Huawei 5G equipment, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Why it matters: This is no small threat. The warning to Germany represents an escalation from previous American statements that raised the prospect of strained relationships and suggested the U.S. can't safely maintain a presence in countries where it believes infrastructure is not secure.

The big picture: Washington is waging an international campaign to sour the world on China's Huawei, based on four ongoing controversies. Huawei may be, according to various U.S critics, any or all of the following:

  • Complicit in Chinese espionage.
  • Subject to Chinese policy that could force it to be complicit in espionage in the future.
  • A beneficiary of theft of trade secrets.
  • A violator of trade sanctions.

And all this is also intertwined with President Trump's trade negotiations with Beijing.

The intrigue: If you set aside the potential espionage and other crimes, Huawei is an attractive supplier for 5G equipment. It offers price advantages in a thinly populated market for 5G equipment, and shunning the firm would harm Germany's economic relationship with China.

  • Germany has argued it can take other steps to protect its cellphone infrastructure even if it uses Huawei's equipment. On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back on the Trump administration's warning, saying Germany would define its own security standards, per Reuters.

What they're saying: Historically, presidents try not to play chicken with our allies.

  • "Public threats with regard to intelligence sharing are not the way to go to influence policy in Berlin or anywhere else," said Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA and current host of the Intelligence Matters podcast.
  • And the U.S. comes out ahead by sharing, noted Chris Painter, the State Department's former top diplomat for cybersecurity issues. "The U.S. shares sensitive information on threats and other issues for its own benefit — not just the benefit of the receiving country. Halting such sharing would undercut our ability to be aware of and collectively counter shared threats and would be shooting ourself in the foot."

Meanwhile, President Trump remains a wild card in the struggle to implement his own policies.

  • Though there is bipartisan support to hang Huawei out to dry and the State Department is pursuing global bans on the firm, Trump also tweeted in April he wanted the U.S. to "win through competition" in the 5G race.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”