Things continue to heat up between the US Government and Shenzhen-based manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. In the latest conflict, the US Government has requested that Huawei's lawyer be disqualified from the case due to his former work with the Justice Department (DoJ).
Why Huawei lawyer Cole is a problem for the US Government
Huawei lawyer James Cole worked with the Justice Department as a former deputy attorney through 2015, and the US Government believes that Cole could reveal information against the US Government in his efforts to aptly defend Huawei.
James Cole says that he doesn't remember much about his work with the Justice Department since it's been four years ago, and that he's been defending Huawei now for two years.
Conflict of Interest
Regardless of what role James Cole played in a few years ago, the bottom line is that he's working for Huawei now and will do his best to defend the manufacturer — even if it means providing some juicy tidbits about the US Government on Huawei's behalf.
Perhaps he doesn't remember what happened, but Huawei knew what it was doing when it hired him. In fact, it's easy to see why Huawei would hire someone like James Cole in the first place.
Huawei is a Chinese company with few friends or allies in the US. In order to navigate US law, the company would have to hire legal counsel that is all too familiar with it. What better way to find one's way around it than to hire a former DoJ deputy attorney?
The legal counsel and advice Cole can offer the Shenzhen-based Huawei is invaluable, making his hire all the more significant. Huawei didn't just "do a coin toss" and "happen to land on heads" when hiring James Cole; his hire was intentional.
That means that Huawei is at least trying its best to create a conflict of interest. In a case where the company is losing on all ends, it doesn't seem farfetched to think that it would use former governmental legal counsel that has been privy to the investigation against Huawei as part of its strategy against the US. This is the same company that sent Verizon a letter for its $1 billion 5G patent licensing fees, trying to make money from a banned country while itself banned, remember? Huawei leaves no stone unturned when its proverbial back is against the wall.
James Cole as legal defense isn't all that Huawei has done in its court battle and political trade war against the United States. The corporation has also taken the US to court over the seizure of its telecommunications gear for the past two years, as Huawei says the US seized the telecom equipment on its way back to China and has never released it.
The Trump Ban started it all
Huawei's legal troubles with the US took a major turn when US President Donald J. Trump placed the company on the US Entity List, barring American companies from selling goods and services to Huawei.
Trump finally let high-tech American companies sell to Huawei once more, but the President has not been in a charitable mood since that point. In fact, as many as 130 license applications to sell to Huawei have been rejected since the President announced the applications would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Huawei has recently accused the US of employee harassment and cyber-attacks upon the company's network. How it is aware of American cyber-attacks is still unknown.