Trump taps ex-Bush official Bossert to counter domestic threats

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday selected former Bush administration official Thomas Bossert as a counterterrorism adviser who will focus heavily on cyber threats.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump claps at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

As assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, Bossert will concentrate on domestic security issues and help craft the administration’s cyber security policies, the transition team said.

“We must work toward cyber doctrine that reflects the wisdom of free markets, private competition and the important but limited role of government in establishing and enforcing the rule of law ... and the fundamental principles of liberty,” Bossert said in a statement.

Cyber security has been a hot button issue in recent weeks as Trump, a Republican, has lashed out against assertions that Russia directed hacks of U.S. Democratic Party emails to influence the U.S. presidential election.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacks.

In a departure from the current administration, Bossert will report directly to Trump and will have his own staff that is not under the National Security Council, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said.

The structure is similar to the approach of Republican President George W. Bush, who set up a Homeland Security Council in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington.

Bossert served as deputy homeland security adviser under Bush.

Democratic President Barack Obama merged the Homeland Security Council staff with the National Security Council staff.

Peter Feaver, a professor at Duke University who served on the National Security Council during the second Bush administration, said that making Bossert report to the president was not a large change.

“You could not call this a radical departure. This is the kind of evolutionary change that always happens with administrations,” Feaver said.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Ginger Gibson, writing by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Lisa Shumaker