- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2018

President Trump received criticism Thursday from a fellow Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, over his administration’s recent decision to eliminate the top White House cybersecurity role.

Ms. Collins and Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrat, wrote Mr. Trump expressing concern over the elimination of the White House cybersecurity coordinator position, a job created during the Obama administration to help harmonize federal cyber policies across the federal government, less than two weeks after it was phased out by the current president’s National Security Council.

“We believe that the nature of the cyber threats facing our nation, their increasing number and the difficult policy questions they raise lend themselves to a centralized Administration approach,” wrote the two lawmakers, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“In our view, an empowered cybersecurity coordinator is needed to drive and oversee a comprehensive, White House-issued cybersecurity strategy to include deterrence, defense and network resilience that coordinates U.S. government efforts across the various departments and agencies.”

The senators’ comments constitute the first time a Republican member of Congress has publicly doubted the administration’s decision, come on the heels of eight House Democrats raising similar concerns in a letter of their own last week, .

“We urge you to strongly reconsider this decision,” the Democrats wrote May 16. “America needs to send a strong message to allies and adversaries alike that we are committed to leading and solving complex cybersecurity issues.

The White House did not return messages seeking comment on either letter from lawmakers.

The National Security Council announced the elimination of the policy position on May 15, four days after outgoing cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce’s final day on the job.

“The role of cyber coordinator will end,” Christine Samuelian, an aide to John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, wrote NSC employees.

Eliminating the position “will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability,” he said in a subsequent statement.

Prior to leaving the White House, Mr. Joyce oversaw the administration’s response to cybersecurity issues including the international WannaCry outbreak and the NotPetya malware attack, among others.

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