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Dems urge Trump to reinstate top cyber post

Dems urge Trump to reinstate top cyber post
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House Democrats are urging President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE to reconsider his decision to scrap a top cyber policy adviser role following the administration's decision to eliminate the position aimed at coordinating the government's approach to cybersecurity policy across federal agencies.

"The risks individuals and countries face in cyberspace are only increasing, and we must build on our capacity to combat those risks — not take needless steps backwards," Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDemocrats to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Democrats offer bill fining lawmakers who don't wear masks in Capitol MORE (D-Mich.) and seven other House Democrats wrote in a letter to the president on Thursday. 

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"We urge you to strongly reconsider this decision. America needs to send a strong message to allies and adversaries alike that we are committed to leading and solving complex cybersecurity issues," the letter continues.

Robert Palladino, a spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC), told The Hill in a statement earlier this week there will be two top senior directors who will oversee the NSC's cyber operations.

“The National Security Council’s cyber office already has two very capable Senior Directors. Moving forward, these Senior Directors will coordinate cyber matters and policy. As they sit six feet apart from one another, they will be able to coordinate in real time," Palladino said on Tuesday.

"Today’s actions continue an effort to empower National Security Council Senior Directors. Streamlining management will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability."

The decision to nix the position was first reported by Politico, which obtained an email detailing the move.

The news outlet had previously reported that Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, was looking to end the position. Rob Joyce, the latest official to hold this position, left on Friday, joining a handful of other national security officials who have recently departed the White House.

“The role of cyber coordinator will end,” Christine Samuelian, an aide to Bolton, reportedly said in the email to NSC staffers, suggesting it would help eliminate cumbersome bureaucratic layers.

The lawmakers in the letter cite the upcoming 2018 midterm elections; "increased tensions" with other countries like China, Russia and Iran; and the need to be able to respond to threats or attacks swiftly as further need for a cybersecurity expert to navigate the administration through rising digital dangers. 

"Whether it is attacks on our financial sector, energy sector, industry or even political campaigns we cannot let these go unanswered and leave ourselves open for future attacks," they wrote.

Reps. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D-Wash.), Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenSenate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close MORE (D-Nev.), Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusHouse Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' MORE (D-Nev.), Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesCOVID-19 could complicate Pelosi's path to Speaker next year Democrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education MORE (D-Conn.), Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchCOVID-19 is wild card as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote Sunday OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Top general negative for coronavirus, Pentagon chief to get tested after Trump result l Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Top House lawmakers launch investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Mass.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Congress must reclaim its Article I powers in order to earn back public trust Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments MORE (D-Wash.) and Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeK Street navigates virtual inauguration week Lobbying world Inauguration parties lose the glitz and glamour in 2021 MORE (D-Texas) also signed on to the bill.

Other Democratic lawmakers have also voiced opposition to this decision, including Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who jointly introduced a bill this week that would establish a high-level cyber advisory position within the Executive Office of the President.

Lieu told The Hill that eliminating the cyber coordinator position was a "monumentally stupid" decision.

Langevin also expressed disappointment, calling the move "short-sighted." 

"Up until this point I was pleased with the direction that the Trump administration was going and better protecting the country in cyberspace," Langevin told The Hill.

"Every administration, going back to President Clinton, then President Bush, President Obama and including the Trump administration were taking positive steps to move the country forward to make sure we are better protected in cyber. This is the first time we are actually taking a step backwards."

Top House Republicans who deal with cyber, however, were not as quick to criticize the decision, saying they needed to learn more about the situation before they pass judgment.

"I'll be watching it to make sure it remains a priority in the White House. I know it is a priority in Department of Homeland Security," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulKremlin: US statements about pro-Navalny protests show 'direct support for the violation of the law' Thousands detained at pro-Navalny rallies in Moscow Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency MORE (R-Texas) told The Hill.

"We will see how it plays out," he added.

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse poised to override Trump veto for first time Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (R-Texas), a former CIA officer who oversees the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, also said he has yet to be briefed on the "perceived value of this" decision. 

"For cybersecurity, you need to have a plan for it and that plan needs to come out of the National Security Council's entity on how we are going to be working together on this so it is an important issue for folks to continue to explore," Hurd added.