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 TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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 RuppersbergerGOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote Overnight Defense: Trump says he may cancel G-20 meeting with Putin | Three service members killed in Afghanistan | Active-shooter drill sparks panic at Walter Reed Panic at Walter Reed after exercise mistaken as active shooter 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 DingellOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill 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 MoultonDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - All eyes on Trump after lawmakers reach spending deal Overnight Defense: Acting Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan | US, Taliban peace talks intensify | Trump tweets in Persian to send message to Iran | Defense world pays tribute to Walter Jones 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 PanettaBipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House passes bill expressing support for NATO This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans 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 GallegoDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Poll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona 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 HunterHouse Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 What a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories MORE (R-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherBipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House passes bill expressing support for NATO Lobbying World 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 PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (Ky.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Ariz.) sided with most Democrats in voting against Haspel. GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid 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 WarnerSchiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs MORE (Va.), the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and red-state Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction 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 PompeoCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight 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 RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration 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 PelosiDonald Trump proved himself by winning fight for border security Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season 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 Nielsen2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report Trump taps FEMA official to lead agency Unscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden 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 ThompsonLawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures Hillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Hillicon Valley: Dems pounce on Trump fight with intel leaders | FBI taps new counterintelligence chief | T-Mobile, Sprint tap former FCC Dem commish to sell merger | Dem bill would crack down on robocalls | Family sues over Uber self-driving fatality 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 CruzEl Chapo's lawyer fires back at Cruz: 'Ludicrous' to suggest drug lord will pay for wall Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again 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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 BannonFormer Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 In next election against populists, centrist forces already making mistakes Chris Christie: Kushner’s dad committed 'one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted’ 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 MarkeyDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal The Green New Deal would benefit independent family farmers Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (D-Mass.) tweeted. Markey also wrote that Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar defends work record: Yes, I am a 'tough boss' Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up MORE (D-Minn.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks White House poised to take action on AI, 5G Overnight Energy: States press Trump on pollution rules | EPA puts climate skeptic on science board | Senate tees up vote on federal lands bill 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 GrassleySmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown MORE (Iowa) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePolls: Hiking estate tax less popular than taxing mega wealth, income Will Trump sign the border deal? Here's what we know Key GOP senator pitches Trump: Funding deal a 'down payment' on wall MORE (S.D.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Former Ryan aide moves to K street Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell's legacy on health care | White House denies officials are sabotaging ObamaCare | FDA wants meeting with Juul, Altria execs on youth vaping 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)