Huawei's struggle against the US government has taken another turn for the worse, with prosecutors now calling for both the disqualification of its lead attorney James Cole and for a dismissal of its attempt to obtain more information about the matter, according to recent reports.
Opposition to Mr. Cole's role in the proceedings is due to what the prosecution refers to as "unprecedented" conflicts of interest stemming from the lawyer's time serving as deputy attorney general with the US Department of Justice.
That very same reasoning is behind the prosecutors' attempt to bar the company and Mr. Cole from obtaining further information about the decision to block the attorney from taking Huawei as a client for the case. By providing the information Huawei is asking for, the prosecutors say, they will be turning over the information they are attempting to stop Huawei from getting.
The case in question centers around the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The executive and 46-year-old daughter of Huawei's founder was arrested in Canada last year at the request of the US on allegations stemming from the company's operations in Iran — which is currently under US sanctions. Ms. Meng Wanzhou is currently fighting extradition to face court in the US and maintains her innocence.
Not entirely separate from Huawei's other problems
News that the company is having difficulty holding onto its legal representation in the US for its CFO is technically separate from the other allegations the Chinese OEM is facing from Washington and other Western nations. It is nevertheless undoubtedly adding to the pressure Huawei is currently under on the international stage.
Huawei has faced increasing scrutiny over the past several months amid claims that the company represents a national security threat from various agencies and the current US administration. As a result of that, and as a result of the claims leveled against the detained CFO, Huawei has been placed on an "entity list" that blocks it from doing business with US companies.
While that essentially puts a damper on its ability to build and maintain phones and gadgets that run Android or that are powered by Qualcomm or Intel technology, the bigger blow has come from the subsequent turmoil in its ability to operate with confidence.
The company has first been blocked and then unblocked from accessing a number of components and certifications since the ban was put into place. That's forced it to more seriously consider its reliance on other companies and its bid to overtake Samsung after growing to become the world's second-largest OEM last year.
No recollection or resolution
Huawei's would-be attorney has claimed to have no recollection of anything from during his time at the DOJ that would present a conflict of interest in the case in question. US prosecutors in the case maintain that is irrelevant and appear to show no indication that they might be swayed from their position.
Regardless, uncertainty about Huawei's ability to adequately defend itself in legal proceedings or even to find adequate representation, coupled with its inability to obtain information about the underlying problem may further hamper its bid to regain footing in the market. For now, the case appears to be stalled indefinitely until a decision can be reached about whether or not there is a conflict of interest.