The Trump administration is doing away with the key position of cyber security coordinator which was instituted by the Obama government. Obama saw a need to bring together in one chief who could unify the government’s approach to cybersecurity and computer warfare.
John Bolton, Trump’s new advisor on national security, is in favor of cutting the post against the advice of many experts and former government officials. The experts say that the elimination of cybersecurity coordinator is a major step in the wrong direction for federal cybersecurity policy.
The National Security Council justifies the move as part of the government’s efforts to “streamline authority” for the head directors who are in charge of most of the NSC teams.
“The role of cyber coordinator will end,” said a Bolton aide Christine Samuelian. Since the cyber team of the NSC already has two senior directors, “cyber coordination is already a core capability.”
The move to eliminate the job was prompted by the departure of Rob Joyce, Trump’s first coordinator. He came from the NSA and will be returning to Fort Meade. Policy experts, lawmakers and former officials connected to cybersecurity warned Trump not to eliminate the position, but to hire someone to replace Joyce.
“I don’t see how getting rid of the top cyber official in the White House does anything to make our country safer from cyber threats,” tweeted Mark Warner (D-Va.), Senate Intelligence ranking member.
Dr. Jennifer Peña, Vice President Mike Pence’s physician, resigned in wake of the failed nomination of Ronny Jackson to be the secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. Dr. Jackson was nominated by the president to take over the position after VA Secretary David Shulkin left the job but withdrew his candidacy after claims of professional misconduct were made against him.
Dr. Peña, who is a military physician like Jackson, was among the many people who accused Jackson of unprofessional conduct including overprescribing medication, drinking while on duty, and creating a hostile work environment.
In addition, Dr. Peña stated in memos that Jackson could have violated Karen Pence’s patient privacy rights when he shared details of a certain medical event which involved Mrs. Pence with chief of staff John Kelly. CNN first reported on the memos.
Staffers in Vice President Pence’s office as well as the White House were concerned about the accusations. They felt that Peña exaggerated the seriousness of the incident to harm Jackson and his chances to become VA chief.
Jackson stepped down from consideration for the position on April 26 when Montana Senator Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, published document of allegations made by 23 current and former colleagues of Jackson of misconduct.
Jackson no longer works as President Trump’s physician but has returned to work in the White House. The new presidential physician is Dr. Sean Conley, also a Navy officer.
As President Trump continues to hint that he is considering interfering with the Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Senate Republicans are pushing back against such interference. Pushback against Trump threats came in the form of a 14-7 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve legislation that will make it even more difficult for the president to fire Mueller.
All Democrats on the committee voted for the so-called “Mueller Protection” legislation, with four Republicans joining them: Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona. The vote came on Thursday in the wake of a statement by Trump saying that he might try an play a “more direct” role in the Department of Justice probe.
The legislation gives any special counsel up to ten days after being fired to challenge the ouster in court. The bill was the product of lengthy discussions and negotiations. Before the vote was taken, Senator Grassley said that he still had constitutional concerns about the legislative branch interfering with decisions made by the executive branch of government. Despite his reservations he voted for the bill saying, “I believe this bill should be considered by the full Senate.”
The top Democrat on the committee, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, said the revised Grassley plan was “a compromise way to ensure appropriate congressional oversight while also inoculating the special counsel” from any inappropriate presidential interference.
Some Republicans continue to insist that Trump will not fire Mueller, while others say the bill is a waste of effort since Trump will veto any such bill that might come to his desk. Fellow Republican have harshly criticized Senator Grassley for pushing for such legislation when its chances of passing are so slim. But Grassley held firm to his choice stating that “you’ve just got to do your job and let the chips fall where they may.”