Last week, Democrats on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent panel leadership a snarky letter positing that, if the committee was so interested in Hillary Clinton’s email server scandal last year, it must also be interested in security shortcomings at the Trump White House.
Monday, on a conference call previewing a a Tuesday hearing on cybersecurity, a GOP committee aide responded in kind.
“From a certain standpoint, [the letter] can be seen as a positive sign because last Congress we undertook to look at the OPM cyber attack and breach, multiple breaches at the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation], attacks at the IRS and so on and so forth. And while we were looking at those things, the minority was telling us we were off on the wrong track, we were turning cybersecurity into politics and all the investigations into [Office of Personnel Management] and so forth were awful and illegitimate,” the aide said.
“So any expression of support for the committee to discharge its authorities — and we do have them as far as [the Federal Information Security Management Act] and cybersecurity is concerned — is a good thing. “
Recent media reports claim President Trump continues to use his old, unsecured smartphone despite being issued a secure one, that Trump aides use private email accounts and that the president’s Twitter account had not been properly secured.
Democratic Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Don Beyer (Va.), and Dan Lipinski (Ill.) penned the letter to suggest using the Tuesday hearing to discuss these issues.
“We are writing to inform the Committee of further opportunities to investigate Executive Branch cybersecurity issues that have been of intense interest to you in the past,” they wrote.
A Democratic Science staffer said she anticipated the Democrats would ask questions along those lines Tuesday.
The hearing is set to discuss recommendations to improve cybersecurity from the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and Center for Strategic International Studies published in December and January, respectively. The commission report was ordered by then-President Obama in April to provide some suggestions for the next administration.
Aides for the Science Committee note that the Committee will not be able to discuss an important third document — a hotly anticipated cybersecurity executive order that has been in the works.