A laptop in use. (Photo by TEK/Science Photo Library/Corbis)
Two weeks before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump met with leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, who briefed him on the Russian hacking scandal. Almost immediately after the private discussion, Trump straight-up lied about he’d learned, insisting in a statement that intelligence professionals told him Russia’s operation had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”
The intelligence community hadn’t said that at all. Trump just made it up.
But in the same written statement, the Republican added that the nation’s cyber infrastructure is at risk and he announced that his team would produce new cybersecurity plan “within 90 days ” of his inauguration. A week later, he had a related tweet pointing to the same deadline.
Politico published an interesting status-check today.
Thursday, Trump hits his 90-day mark. There is no team, there is no plan, and there is no clear answer from the White House on who would even be working on what.
It’s quite a fine-tuned machine, isn’t it?
There was some talk of Rudy Giuliani having a cybersecurity role on Team Trump, but Politico reports that the former mayor is not working on the White House’s plan. Neither is the National Security Council.
When Politico asked the White House for some kind of explanation, a spokesperson said, “The president has appointed a diverse set of executives with both government and private sector expertise who are currently are working to deliver an initial cybersecurity plan through a joint effort between the National Security Council and the Office of American Innovation.”
Yes, that would be the same Office of American Innovation headed up by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. In other words, Kushner’s policy portfolio, which already appeared ridiculously vast, also includes playing a role in the creation of a cybersecurity plan that was due today, but which doesn’t currently exist.
Let’s not forget that during the campaign, this was an issue Trump at least liked to talk about. During the first presidential debate, he vowed to get “very tough on cyber.” He quickly added, “I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.”
I still haven’t the foggiest idea what Trump was trying to say.
Regardless, as regular readers know, the president considers himself some kind of visionary on matters of technology security. In a pre-inauguration press conference, Trump said he deserved credit for the RNC’s cyber-security measures because, as he put it, Trump believes he told the national party to create a “strong hacking defense” and they took his advice. (There’s no evidence such a conversation ever took place.)
Given his professed expertise and interest, it’s curious to see Trump and his team fail to follow through.