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After Trump comment on Huawei, official says Justice Dept. sticks to law enforcement

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U.S. Assistant Attorney General Demers addresses a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China at the Justice Department in Washington

FILE PHOTO: Assistant U.S. Attorney General for National Security John Demers addresses a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China and a new Department of Justice initiative focusing on China’s economic activity, at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S. November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. Justice Department official pushed back on Wednesday against President Donald Trump's comment that he might intervene in a legal case involving an executive from the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL] if it would help secure a trade deal.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers told a U.S. Senate hearing on Chinese espionage that the Justice Department is not "a tool of trade."

"What we do at the Justice Department is law enforcement. We don't do trade," Demers said when Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal asked him about Trump's comment.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei's founder, is in Canada fighting an extradition request from the United States. She faces U.S. claims she misled multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions.

She was released on bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday after being arrested at the request of the United States as she was changing planes in Vancouver on Dec. 1.

Trump said in a Reuters interview on Tuesday he would intervene with the Justice Department in the case against Meng if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

Blumenthal said the comment by Trump made it look like U.S. law enforcement "is a tool of either trade or political or diplomatic ends of this country."



(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Sandra Maler)