Senate panel puts White House cyber czar subpoena idea on backburner

The Senate Armed Services Committee has pushed the idea of issuing a subpoena for President Donald Trump’s cyber coordinator to the backburner.

The threat was raised during an Oct. 19 hearing after the White House declined to let its principal cyber adviser, Rob Joyce, appear before the panel, citing executive privilege and past precedent not to make most National Security Council staff available. However, on Wednesday the matter seemed to have been overtaken by other events.

“We will be meeting and talking about it very soon,” panel chairman John McCain told POLITICO, adding he didn’t know when “exactly” because the committee was preparing for a Thursday classified briefing on the Oct. 4 ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers. He did note that the White House hadn’t sent anyone to Capitol Hill to smooth the rift. “Our attention right now is focused on the NDAA conference … and also on the Niger,” according to Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking member, referring to negotiations with their House counterparts over the annual defense policy bill.

Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the cybersecurity subpanel, who first raised the notion of subpoenaing Joyce and later pressed the idea in a letter to committee leaders, said he hadn’t talked to McCain since last week’s hearing. But, Nelson said, he “absolutely” still believes Joyce should appear before Congress. “Somebody like that ought to come to the committee and keep the committee informed on cybersecurity,” he said. On Tuesday, Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser and Joyce’s boss at the NSC, chastised McCain over the incident. “While I have a great deal of respect for Senator McCain and for the institution of Congress, I thought that empty chair stunt was cheap and beneath him,” he told reporters.

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FIRST IN MC: DEM GROUP PROPOSES CYBER POLICY A group of moderate House Democrats today will release a paper making cybersecurity policy recommendations, and MC got a sneak peek. The New Democrat Coalition paper suggests more quickly declassifying threat data and directing the National Guard to establish Cyber Civil Support teams to respond to major state and local cyber incidents. It also recommends creating a national service program to forgive federal student loan debts for science and tech students who work for the federal government on cybersecurity, establishing a loan guarantee program for small businesses to buy cybersecurity tech and building a government-business partnership to distribute cyber hygiene public service announcements. Overall, the paper focuses on information sharing, critical infrastructure, technology development, the cyber workforce and protecting internet-connected devices.


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