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Trump’s draft cybersecurity order fails to mention FBI, election security

The president has ordered a full assessment of the nation's cybersecurity infrastructure.


Dell Cameron


Posted on Jan 31, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 2:30 am CDT

A draft of a presidential executive order concerning cybersecurity and the nation’s infrastructure curiously makes no mention of the U.S. election system.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the order on Tuesday, Reuters reported citing sources familiar with the matter. The president has promised to launch a full review of the nation’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities; the order fulfills that promise, setting out 60- and 100-day assessments of the nation’s cybersecurity framework. The order is the first to address cybersecurity since Trump took office.

The draft version is notable because it appears to diminish the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency central to cybersecurity investigations and enforcement under the Obama administration. In fact, while the National Security Agency, the Pentagon, and Homeland Security’s duties are outlined in the draft, the FBI is not mentioned at all.

As noted by McClatchy, Michael Sulmeyer and Charley Snyder of the Lawfare blog have suggested the FBI’s reduced role may be an oversight; the product of—as we saw last week with Trump’s immigration order—inadequate consultation with a relevant agency. It’s also possible the FBI may be written into the final draft. But if not, “they will be the agency with the most to lose out of this process,” write Sulmeyer and Snyder.

If avoiding any reference to the U.S. election system is an attempt by the White House to avoid broaching a topic sensitive to the new administration, that strategy will most likely fail. The absence of the election system in the document is glaring, as the hacking of the Democratic Party, as well as Russia’s reported involvement in the breach, remains an exigent matter of public concern.

Trump did not accept the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s involvement until after he received a classified briefing this month, prior to his inauguration. “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said. 

Read the full draft of the Trump administration’s cybersecurity executive order below:

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2017, 12:53 pm CST