Trump Appoints Legislative Cyber Leaders to Transition Team

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Charles Dharapak/AP

Reps. Devin Nunes, Marsha Blackburn and Tom Marino have sponsored cyber and tech legislation.

President-elect Donald Trump today named a trio of congressional cyber leaders to his transition team, including House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

The appointments could give some indication of a serious cyber focus for the incoming Trump administration, whose cyber positions have been largely opaque.

Trump pledged in a video message earlier this month to launch a Defense Department-led review of cyber protections for vital U.S. infrastructure. That could signal a shift from current policy, which places most responsibility for critical infrastructure protection with the Homeland Security Department.

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Nunes, who co-sponsored the House version of cyber information sharing legislation that became law this year, has been floated as a possible successor to James Clapper as director of national intelligence.

Nunes has led the intelligence committee since the beginning of the current Congress. He will serve on the transition team’s executive committee.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., will serve as a vice chair of the transition team. Blackburn is vice chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of a bill that would create a national standard securing customer data and a standard benchmark for when companies must notify customers about a breach.

Currently, breach notification standards differ from state to state. 

Also on the executive committee is Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee panel with responsibility for cybersecurity.

Marino is a co-sponsor of the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act, which would limit the Justice Department’s ability to demand access to customer data stored by U.S. companies in different nations.

Trump also Monday named billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts to be his deputy. Ross and Ricketts will be responsible for a large portion of the government’s cyber research workforce, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Trump has yet to name leadership at the government’s two main operational cyber agencies, DHS and DOD.