When do exits become an exodus? The latest departure of Trump administration advisors comes from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), where eight of 28 members have walked away from the cybersecurity body in both a policy and morality protest.
The collective rebuke endorsed by nearly 30 percent of the NIAC’s advisors is more than mere protest. In a resignation letter obtained by NextGov (via Defense One), the walkouts faulted Trump for undermining the cybersecurity of election systems by persistently questioning whether Russian hackers meddled in the 2016 race.
“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,” the letter states.
The letter also scolded the Administration for failing to show that it is “adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters within the NIAC’s purview” and for its dismissal of “sound advice” from experts. It further accused the Administration of ignoring the “pressing threat of climate change to our critical infrastructure.”
The letter suggested the departing members wrestled with a moral unease that perhaps resonated loudly for them, voicing stern disagreement with Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence and his backpedaling from the Paris Climate Accord.
“The moral infrastructure of our Nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built,” the letter reads. “The Administration’s actions undermine that foundation.”
Three of the ex-NIAC members date to the Obama administration, including White House Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil, Office of Science and Technology Policy Chief of Staff Cristin Dorgelo and Christy Goldfuss, White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director, Defense One reported from Twitter posts.
All eight resigning members have already been deleted from the NIAC website. The remaining 20 officials have reportedly rubber stamped a new cybersecurity vulnerability report that cautioned the U.S. infrastructure is in “a pre-9/11 moment.”
Former President Bush formed the NIAC in 2001 with a charter to provide advice on the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure, a directive that now includes cybersecurity to a greater extent than 16 years ago. The association’s bipartisan membership is a collaboration of government and business and operates within the Department of Homeland Security.
The NIAC members’ resignations follow the high-profile dissolution of two of the President’s advisory associations less than two weeks ago following an exodus of disaffected CEO members who tied their decisions to Trump’s post-Charlottesville remarks.