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Dec. 13, 2018, 9:33 a.m. EST

Trump aides warn against intervening in Huawei case

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By Vivian Salama and Sadie Gurman

Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (2-R) US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin (R) and members of their delegation hold a dinner meeting with China's President Xi Jinping (3-L) and Chinese government representatives, at the end of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires.

Despite President Trump’s statement that he might intervene in a criminal case against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., such a move would break from longstanding tradition and advisers have warned him that his options are limited, according to people familiar with the matter.

When news broke last week of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, threatening the president’s trade talks with China, he asked for options, according to one person, and advisers told him the arrest and potential prosecution of Meng was essentially out of his hands.

The arrest was a Justice Department matter, they said, and the White House should stay out of it for now, this person said. There are no immediate plans to intervene in the matter, officials added.

The matter arose when Trump returned to Washington last week optimistic that his trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping had made headway. But stocks /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.57%  didn’t respond as well as he had expected, and on Tuesday Trump told Reuters he would be willing to intervene in the case against Meng if it meant securing a strong agreement.

An expanded version of this story is available at WSJ.com

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