Trump scraps cyber czar post after first appointee leaves: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has eliminated the position of cyber security coordinator after President Donald Trump’s first appointee for the job departed last week, a spokesman for the National Security Council confirmed on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks to Marine One to depart for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit first lady Melania Trump after she had kidney surgery from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

“Today’s actions continue an effort to empower National Security Council Senior Directors. Streamlining management will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability,” NSC spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement replying to a question about the role’s elimination.

The NSC’s two senior cyber policy directors sit near one another so will be able to coordinate matters in real time, Palladino said.

Politico first reported earlier on Tuesday that the position had been scrapped, citing an email from an aide to national security adviser John Bolton that was sent to NSC employees, and provided to the newspaper by a former U.S. official.

Rob Joyce, Trump’s first coordinator, left the White House on Friday and planned to return to the National Security Agency where he had worked previously. His expected departure was announced in April.

The position was established during the administration of President Barack Obama and was aimed at harmonizing government policy on cybersecurity and digital warfare.

Cyber policy experts, legislators and former officials had urged Trump to replace Joyce and not abolish the position.

“I don’t see how getting rid of the top cyber official in the White House does anything to make our country safer from cyber threats,” Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

Politico reported last week that Bolton was trying to eliminate the top cyber policy role.

Joyce’s departure follows that of his boss, Tom Bossert, who oversaw his work on cyber security and was pushed out of the administration last month.

The White House has seen a raft of departures since Bolton began his new role in April.

Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Cynthia Osterman