December 23, 2019 / 11:20 PM / 2 months ago

Trump taps senior aide who defied impeachment subpoena for 5G post

FILE PHOTO: White House aide Robert Blair (L), who serves as a national security advisor to White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Deputy Assistant to the President Douglas Hoelscher (C) and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino walk to board the Marine One helicopter with U.S. President Donald Trump for travel to Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S. May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump named Robert Blair to be the special representative for international telecommunications policy and work on the administration’s 5G efforts under White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the White House said in a statement on Monday.

As the senior adviser to the White House chief of staff, Blair defied a subpoena from a House of Representatives committee as part of its impeachment inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressed Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rival, Joe Biden.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has also called for Blair to testify in the Senate’s expected impeachment trial, though Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has not accepted that demand.

Blair will continue to serve as an assistant to the president and senior adviser to the White House chief of staff, the White House said.

Blair’s new role comes amid an international campaign by the United States against Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. Washington has been seeking to convince allies to exclude the firm from their 5G networks over fears the company could spy on customers for Beijing.

Citing national security concerns, the Trump administration put the company on a trade blacklist in May, barring companies that make goods in the United States from selling to it without a special license.

Reuters reported last month that the Commerce Department is considering toughening export restrictions on the firm, which is the world’s second largest smartphone supplier.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker

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