Senators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump

Senators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump
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A bipartisan group of senators is pressing President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE to issue a national strategy for deterring malicious activity in cyberspace “as soon as possible,” accusing successive administrations of not giving enough urgency to the issue.

“The lack of decisive and clearly articulated consequences to cyberattacks against our country has served as an open invitation to foreign adversaries and malicious cyber actors to continue attacking the United States,” the senators wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill. [Read the senators' letter below.]

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“The United States has failed to formulate, implement, and declare a comprehensive cyber doctrine with an appropriate sense of urgency,” they wrote. “We urge you to end this state of inaction immediately.”

The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichA Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Election Countdown: What to watch in final primaries | Dems launch M ad buy for Senate races | Senate seats most likely to flip | Trump slump worries GOP | Koch network's new super PAC Rand Paul endorses Gary Johnson's Senate bid MORE (D-N.M.). It is signed by Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsOn The Money: Treasury rules target blue-state workarounds to tax law | Senate approves sweeping defense, domestic spending bill | US imposes B in tariffs on Chinese goods | Panel narrowly approves consumer bureau pick Senate panel narrowly approves Trump consumer bureau pick GOP sen: Sessions is ‘the right man for the job’ MORE (R-S.D.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on cyber, as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Graham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump MORE (R-S.C.), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingA Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Restoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks MORE (I-Maine), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-N.H.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke Spotlight shifts to Kavanaugh ahead of hearings GOP senator: Trump firing Sessions wouldn't be 'politically wise' MORE (R-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Trump to visit North Carolina on Wednesday in aftermath of Florence MORE (R-S.C.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn Teen girls pen open letter supporting Kavanaugh accuser: We imagine you at that party and 'see ourselves' Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt MORE (R-Neb.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster Poll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race MORE (D-Va.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersLawmakers move to award posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Bipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure MORE (D-Mich.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her More Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? MORE (D-Mass.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDem senator: Kavanaugh's credibility is 'already very questionable' Sunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Kavanaugh fight roils an already ugly political climate MORE (D-Hawaii).

Lawmakers have taken issue with both the Obama and Trump administrations for failing to develop a comprehensive strategy for deterring and responding to malicious behavior in cyberspace.

In order to press the executive branch on the issue, Congress inserted language into recent iterations of annual defense policy legislation directing the president to develop a cyber deterrence strategy.

President Trump strongly objected to a provision in the current National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring him to develop a national cyber policy, though he ultimately signed the bill.

“In congressional hearings over the course of several years, we have heard numerous government officials across party lines from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the State Department, and the National Security Agency each point to the White House when answering which government entity is in charge of formulating our nation’s cyber doctrine,” the lawmakers wrote Wednesday. “To date, despite a rapid increase in cyber activity by both nation-states and non-state actors, no cyber deterrence strategy has been announced.”

The issue came up most recently at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats that featured extensive discussions between lawmakers and top intelligence officials on cyber threats. 

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal MORE, in response to questions from Rounds at the hearing Tuesday, acknowledged that the government has not developed a comprehensive cyber policy.

“I don't think the progress has been made quick enough to put us in a position where we have a firm policy and understanding, not only ourselves, but what our adversaries know relative to how we're going to deal with this,” Coats said, noting that it will take a “whole-of-government” effort.

Coats also told Heinrich that he could not give a “specific date” on when lawmakers could expect a cyber strategy from the new administration. He said there had been “ongoing discussions” on the issue within the executive branch.

The lawmakers on Wednesday asked Trump for an immediate update on the status of the policy, including a timeline on its completion. 

White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce was copied on the letter. 

“A strong cyber doctrine by the United States government would serve as a deterrent, which is not only necessary, but critical to our nation’s survival in the digital age,” the senators wrote. 

They cited cyber threats to U.S. critical infrastructure as well as “state-sponsored disinformation” targeting the electoral process – an apparent reference to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.