Pompeo pressed on plans for cybersecurity at State

Pompeo pressed on plans for cybersecurity at State
© Greg Nash

CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE on Thursday would not say what his plans would be for the top cyber position at the State Department, though he said he would put “a great deal of resources” toward cybersecurity efforts if confirmed.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcConnell keeps press in check as impeachment trial starts Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-Colo.) asked Pompeo about his plans for the cybersecurity position at the State Department, an apparent reference to the now-defunct role of cybersecurity coordinator. Former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Kudlow says Trump 'looking at' reforming law on bribing foreign officials Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE, who President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE fired last month, eliminated the position as part of his broader reorganization plan for the department — a move that irked both Republicans and Democrats.

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“I have had the [organization] chart shown to me. I have seen the holes,” Pompeo said Thursday. “Beyond that, I haven’t given a great deal of consideration to people filling particular positions.” 

“I can only say that, every element of government has a piece of its cyber duty. It’s one of the challenges that it’s so deeply divided, that we don’t have a central place to do cyber work,” Pompeo said.

“At the CIA, we’ve spent a great deal of resources. I hope we have delivered value on our cyber efforts. I would hope we do the same thing at the State Department,” he said. 

Tillerson told Congress last summer that he was closing the Office of Cybersecurity Coordinator and folding its responsibilities into a bureau focused on economic and business affairs.

Several lawmakers balked at the move, worrying it signaled a downgrade to the department’s efforts to engage with other nations on cyber policy and norms. In January, the House voted to approve legislation that would restore the cyber office. State officials have insisted that cyber remains a top priority at the department. 

Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for several hours on Thursday as part of his confirmation process to become secretary of State.

Trump tapped Pompeo to lead State on March 13, the same day he removed Tillerson — a decision that abruptly ended the former Exxon Mobil executive’s 14-month tenure.

Broadly, Pompeo committed to filling critical vacancies at the State Department and boosting workforce morale.