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Trump and Cybersecurity: The Fox in the Hen House

July 13, 2017
In The News

Early Sunday morning, President Trump took to twitter to announce: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things will be guarded…” I immediately had the same reaction as many Americans: shock and disgust. The analogies ensued: asking a burglar to serve as a security guard, an arsonist to man the fire truck, El Chapo to combat drug addiction.
All jokes aside, this is worse than a bad idea. Just the thought is insulting and flat-out dangerous for America. It is increasingly clear that while many of my colleagues and I believe we should stand with our allies, Donald Trump believes we should stand with Russia.
Although President Trump walked his suggestion back twelve hours later, his tweets are indicative of the lack of seriousness he is giving this issue. It is just the latest example of him playing fast and loose with American foreign policy and our place in the world.
That is why I have introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on the House floor this week and I am finalizing standalone legislation to affirmatively prevent the Trump Administration from implementing any joint cooperation or coordination with Russia on matters of cybersecurity.
Frankly, I am appalled that such legislation is necessary. International cooperation and partnership on cybersecurity is typically a worthwhile pursuit. Cyber is the emerging battlefield of our time. The United States engages with a number of allies on cybersecurity to strengthen critical infrastructure at home and abroad. However, any partnership involving the sharing of sensitive information and incredible vulnerabilities requires common goals and interests. How could the President possibly believe Vladimir Putin has America’s interests at heart?
Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, and polling shows that a majority of Americans agree with this fact. Our intelligence agencies have also unanimously concluded that it was Russia that hacked our election, and is repeatedly guilty of ongoing intrusions in our cyber space. Russia also continues to support hackers around the world and is now interfering in European elections around the continent. A cybersecurity partnership with Russia would put the United States at greater risk, sharing sensitive information and access to critical networks and infrastructure.
It’s past time Congress, and our President, address our known cyber threats with the seriousness they merit – rather than reckless proposals and sarcastic remarks.
I have also previously introduced H.R.1997, the Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, to improve U.S. cyber cooperation with our close ally, Ukraine, which has been under serious cyber attacks at the hands of Russia. This bill has strong bipartisan support – as any rational national security proposal rooted in fact and sound policy should.
We should strive to strengthen our cyber defenses and those of our close allies, not open the door to our most vile intruders.  Wake up, Mr. President.