Donald Trump NIAC resignations

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Trump loses 8 members of his cybersecurity council over Charlottesville response

Twenty-eight percent of the council has left.


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Aug 28, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 7:10 pm CDT

Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence continues to have consequences for the president, as well as the people who are supposed to be advising him.

According to Defense One, eight of the 28 people who sat on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), which works with the Department of Homeland Security on cybersecurity and how to protect critical infrastructure, resigned last week. In a resignation letter obtained by NextGov, it says, “[Trump’s] actions have threatened the security of the homeland I took an oath to protect.”

After Charlottesville, Trump said “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted and saidthat there were “very fine people” among the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who rallied in the Virginia city.

“When asked about the horrific violence in Charlottesville, you failed to denounce the intolerance and violence of hate groups, instead offering false equivalences and attacking the motives of the CEOs who had resigned from their advisory roles in protest,” the resignation letter states. “You have given insufficient attention to the growing threats to the cybersecurity of the critical systems upon which all Americans depend, including those impacting the systems supporting our democratic election process. Additionally, your decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, your intent to revoke flood-risk building standards, and your many other actions to ignore the pressing threat of climate change to our critical infrastructure also point to your disregard for the security of American communities.”

At least three of the members who resigned were Obama-era appointees, and the loss of one-third of the council comes after an NIAC report said that U.S. infrastructure currently is in a “pre-9/11 moment.”

The former NIAC members follow a number of CEOs who resigned from the president’s manufacturing council in recent weeks. Trump attacked Merck CEO Ken Frazier after Frazier left the council earlier this month.

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier said. His departure was followed by resignations from other CEOs. Trump was also later forced to disband two business advisory councils because so many people had left.

Members of the Committee on the Arts and Humanities also resigned en masse after Trump’s Charlottesville comments, and in a resignation letter, the first letter of each paragraph spelled out the word, “RESIST.”

For now, it doesn’t appear NIAC, which was formed in 2001 by President George W. Bush, is in any danger of being disbanded.

“The NIAC met [last week] as planned with the majority of its members, who remain committed to the important work of protecting our Nation’s critical infrastructure,” the White House said in a statement to the Hill.

H/T the the Verge

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*First Published: Aug 28, 2017, 9:42 am CDT