Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers

Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers
© Greg Nash

The Cyber and Tech overnights have joined forces to give you Hillicon Valley, The Hill's new comprehensive newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) and Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers), and the tech team, Ali Breland (@alibreland) and Harper Neidig (@hneidig), on Twitter.

Contact us with scoops, tips, comments, and takes on whether or not Westworld is actually a good show.

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE REBUKES TRUMP ON ZTE: The House Appropriations Committee unanimously accepted an amendment to an appropriations bill on Thursday that reinforces sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, a rebuke to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE, who earlier this week tweeted support for the company.

"This amendment would prevent the Commerce Department from renegotiation of the sanctions it just enacted last month on ZTE," said Rep. Dutch RuppersbergerCharles (Dutch) Albert RuppersbergerHillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract Lawmakers urge Google to drop partnership with Chinese phone maker Huawei Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (D-Md.), who authored the amendment to the 2019 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.

How we got here: The Commerce Department slapped heavy sanctions on the Chinese company last month, banning it from using American components in its parts, and effectively causing the company to shut down its U.S. operations.

The company broke U.S. trade control laws by selling components to Iran and North Korea.

On Sunday, President Trump did a surprising about-face on his typically tough China rhetoric, declaring in a tweet that, "President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"

The trouble for Trump: The tweet shocked lawmakers in both parties given the support for the sanctions and Trump's own bellicose rhetoric on China.

Lawmakers say ZTE has been a national security threat, not only breaking American sanctions, but allegedly stealing intellectual property on behalf of the Chinese government.

More on how ZTE is pitting lawmakers from both parties against Trump.

 

FIGHT OVER CYBER POST: House Democrats are urging President Trump to reconsider his decision to scrap a top cyber policy adviser role. The administration decided 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 DingellFormer Rep. John Dingell returns to Twitter after heart attack John Dingell suffers heart attack, said to be ‘in good spirits’ The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (D-Mich.) and seven other House Democrats wrote in a letter to the president on Thursday.

"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.

We explain the controversy here.

 

Another Democrat is turning to the annual defense policy bill to save the post.

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur Moulton11 Dems float anti-Pelosi leadership plan: reports To cure Congress, elect more former military members Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless MORE (D-Mass.) filed an amendment to annual defense policy legislation that would prohibit President Trump from eliminating the cybersecurity coordinator position at the National Security Council (NSC).

Moulton filed his amendment to the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the House Rules Committee this week. It will be up to the committee to decide which amendments ultimately go to the floor when the full House votes on the bill next week.

More on Moulton's effort here.

 

INSIDE THE DEFENSE BILL: There are several other notable tech and cyber-related amendments in the annual defense bill. Among them: A measure introduced by Rep. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: 7B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties MORE (D-Calif.) that would instruct the Defense Secretary to set up a "cyber institute" at the Pentagon to help the department collaborate with industry, academia and other government organizations on cyber matters.

Lawmakers are also using the defense bill to take aim at ZTE. Several lawmakers are attempting to insert amendments into the fiscal 2018 NDAA aimed at keeping products from Chinese tech giants like ZTE and Huawei out of the U.S. over national security concerns

One amendment drafted by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) proposed that the heads of government agencies report to Congress "any quid pro quo offers between the United States Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China to ensure the United States will reduce penalties, sanctions, or any other punitive action" against ZTE.

Another by Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoOne year later: Puerto Rico battles with bureaucracy after Maria Grassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Arizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around MORE (D-Ariz.) would compel the director of national intelligence to provide Congress with an assessment of the national security implications of Trump's proposal to reduce penalties on ZTE.

Two more amendments from Reps. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterIndicted lawmaker angers GOP with decision to run for reelection Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency Indicted GOP lawmaker to stay on ballot in New York this fall: report MORE (R-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations NATO head shoots down idea of naming new headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel MORE (R-Wis.) would mandate that President Trump bar ZTE and its larger Chinese mobile phone competitor, Huawei, from bringing their telecommunications equipment into the U.S. until the administration receives confirmation that such companies don't pose a threat to national security.

Click here for a closer look at how lawmakers are targeting ZTE in the defense bill.

What's next: The House Rules Committee is expected to decide early next week which amendments will ultimately go to the floor when the full House votes on the defense policy bill.

 

TRUMP GETS A CIA DIRECTOR: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gina Haspel to lead the CIA despite engrained opposition over her involvement in the George W. Bush-era interrogation program.

GOP Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (Ky.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (Ariz.) sided with most Democrats in voting against Haspel. GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (Ariz.), who was captured and tortured during the Vietnam War, also opposes her nomination but is in Arizona battling brain cancer.

Several Democrats including Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (Va.), the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and red-state Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP Senate candidate: Allegations against Kavanaugh 'absurd' The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination MORE (N.D.) supported the nominee.

Haspel is a veteran CIA official who has been with the agency for more than 30 years and by all accounts is well-liked by her colleagues. But her nomination received roughly half the support from Democrats that now-Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPositive Moon-Kim summit creates a diplomatic opening in North Korea The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify Haley wasn’t invited to key White House meeting on refugee policy: report MORE, a former House member, received last year when he was confirmed as President Trump's first CIA chief. We have more on the drama surrounding her nomination, and her ultimate confirmation, here.

 

SPECIAL COUNSEL CLEARS FCC CHAIR OF ETHICS VIOLATION IN CPAC APPEARANCE: The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) says that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not run afoul of ethics laws in appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the watchdog also said that it will give FCC employees ethics training following the controversy over the three GOP commissioners' appearance at the right-wing gathering in February.

"After considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the event, OSC has concluded that you did not violate the Hatch Act by merely participating in the panel discussion in an official capacity," OSC official Ana Galindo-Marrone wrote in the letter to Pai, which is dated May 16.

The OSC also told a pair of House Democrats that it would be holding ethics training for FCC employees following months of back-and-forth over the officials' CPAC appearance.

To recap: The OSC hit GOP Commissioner Michael O'Reilly with a warning after concluding that he violated the Hatch Act when he urged CPAC attendees to re-elect President Trump. And in March, Pai declined a "courage under fire" award, in the form of a musket, that was presented to him at the event for his work repealing net neutrality.

We've got more here.

 

NEWS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN TODAY: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign MORE (R-Wis.) has postponed a briefing for members of Congress on the security of U.S. voting systems so that it can be classified.

The move comes after Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act Internal RNC poll shows Pelosi is more popular than Trump: report Indicted lawmaker angers GOP with decision to run for reelection MORE (D-Calif.), pressed GOP leadership to make the briefing classified so that officials could go into sufficient detail about the scope of the threat and the Trump administration's efforts to protect digital election systems from hackers.

Sources told The Hill that the briefing, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, has been pushed back as a result of logistical issues that prevented it from being classified. GOP leadership is now working to reschedule the briefing.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFEMA head to reimburse government for use of federal vehicles: report US to prioritize attacks against foreign adversaries under new cyber strategy Paddlers sue Trump over frequent golf visits shutting down the Potomac River MORE, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats were originally scheduled to brief members on the Trump administration's efforts to secure digital election infrastructure on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Ryan announced the briefing late Monday, amid widespread concerns about foreign threats to the midterm elections triggered by a Russian interference campaign in the 2016 vote that included cyber targeting of state election systems. The Speaker's announcement came on the eve of primaries in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon.

The briefing was initially planned to be unclassified, but limited to members of Congress.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTrump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash Washington to finally focus on threat to supply-chain risk management Mississippi to test limits of Medicaid work requirements MORE (D-Miss.), however, charged that the unclassified nature would prevent officials from going into enough detail about efforts to protect U.S. voting systems.

The briefing is expected to be rescheduled as early as next week.

We break it all down here.

 

CRUZ BLASTS PROPOSAL TO END SPACE STATION FUNDING: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE (R-Texas) is blasting a proposal to end funding for the International Space Station (ISS) and vowing to fight for the program.

"Nowhere in federal statute is there a request from Congress seeking a hard deadline to end federal support for ISS."

"Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars," Cruz said during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday. "We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have consequences of creating gaps in capability, that send $3 1/2 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government, or that create a leadership vacuum in low-earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize on it."

Background: The administration has proposed ending funding for the space station in seven years, by 2025.

At the hearing lawmakers from both parties led by Cruz and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPolitical shenanigans mask true problems in Puerto Rico The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh controversy consumes Washington | Kavanaugh slated to testify Monday | Allegations shake up midterms MORE (D-Fla.), though, pushed back.

 

WHISTLEBLOWER ALLEGES BANNON WANTED TO SUPPRESS BLACK VOTE: Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower behind the Cambridge Analytica revelations, said in a CNN interview that Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonOur policies on immigration should be forward-thinking Ann Coulter believes Kushner wrote anonymous op-ed bashing Trump Bannon seeks to boost Republican turnout in midterms with new film MORE directed the firm to research suppressing the vote among black Americans in order to perpetuate a "cultural warfare."

"Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL [Cambridge Analytica's parent company], a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population," Wylie said Wednesday.

 

@JACK ON THE HILL: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with several U.S. lawmakers on Thursday to discuss issues such as data privacy and net neutrality.

"Pleasure to meet with @Twitter's @jack today," Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (D-Mass.) tweeted. Markey also wrote that Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat MORE (D-Minn.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Wash.) attended the meeting with Dorsey as well.

Markey wrote that they had discussed net neutrality, online privacy and immigration.

Dorsey also met with top Republican lawmakers including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley extends deadline for Kavanaugh accuser to decide on testifying Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Kavanaugh accuser seeks additional day to decide on testimony MORE (Iowa) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches MORE (S.D.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse GOP blocks Trump-supported drug pricing provision from spending bill GOP turns its fire on Google Hillicon Valley: Twitter chief faces GOP anger over bias | DOJ convenes meeting on bias claims | Rubio clashes with Alex Jones | DHS chief urges lawmakers to pass cyber bill | Sanders bill takes aim at Amazon MORE (R-Ore.). The Twitter CEO's conversations with them focused more on potential misuse of the platform, according to tweets the lawmakers posted after their meetings.

We've got more on his visit here.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MUELLER PROBE: Here's our piece on how divisions on Capitol Hill were in full force on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference.  

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: Come on A.I. bot, do better.

 

NEWS ABOUT THE WOZ: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is blasting technology companies for abusing user privacy and is suggesting that regulators crack down on the industry's massive market power.

In a wide-ranging interview with Business Insider, Wozniak said that companies like Facebook have been deceiving internet users about their privacy.

"I'm bothered by what technology has become," he said when asked about data scandals like Cambridge Analytica and cybersecurity threats to elections.

"We've lost our privacy and it's been abused."

More on Wozniak here.

 

QUICK HITS:

A Dem lawmaker plans to launch a discharge petition to force a House vote on saving net neutrality.

PayPal is finalizing a deal to buy Swedish small-business platform iZettle for $2.2 billion, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday. It would be PayPal's largest deal ever.

Buzzfeed reports that a paid comment system on YouTube has been co-opted by white nationalists and members of the alt-right as a way around the site's complex policies on how to make money off the platform.

Facebook is launching a partnership with the Atlantic Council to boost its global election security efforts.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW: 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow morning on quantum computing.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

U.S. Cyber Command has achieved full operational capability. (Cyber Command)

'ZipperDown' vulnerability could impact 100 million iPhones. (Forbes)

Scan4You operator convicted on federal charges. (Gizmodo)

Florida counties want more money to secure their election systems. (Tampa Bay Times)

There is a lot of fake ICO whitepapers out there. (WSJ)

Google's Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering (The Verge)