Likely Conflicts Ahead as Trump Elevates Giuliani to Cyber Czar
Giuliani admits he might have business ties with some of the people he connects to President Trump
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be serving as a key cyber security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, the transition team announced on Thursday, which could pose yet more conflicts of interest for the incoming administration.
The Trump loyalist, who had been on the shortlist for secretary of state, "will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector," the Trump team said, which could include arranging meetings with corporate executives to discuss cyber issues in the private sector.
Despite the appointment—which comes with no title—Giuliani has said he will not resign from his role as chair of the global cyber security practice at Greenberg Traurig, nor from his post of CEO of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm, where he works directly for cyber-related clients.
"The idea here," Giuliani explained on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning, "is to bring together corporate leaders and their technological people. The president will meet with them on an ongoing basis, as well as anyone else in the administration… I'll coordinate the whole thing."
This forum, Giuliani noted, will include foreign firms, including some from Israel, which he said has "tremendous cyberdefense research."
However, in an interview with Politico published Thursday, Giuliani "acknowledged that he might have business ties with some of the people he connects to Trump, and that he might be discussing government and private issues with some people," the outlet reported.
This arrangement, Politico notes, creates "a potential conflict of interest that won't be subject to federal ethics laws," because as cyber security adviser, "Giuliani is a volunteer, not a government employee."
Such a conflict is nothing new for the Trump administration. Outside of the incoming president's egregious business conflicts, many potential members of his cabinet—and "shadow cabinet"—also bring significant corporate ties.
Specifically, Politico points out that Giuliani's "arrangement resembles that of activist investor Carl Icahn, who will advise Trump on deregulation, which could directly affect stocks he owns. But since he won't be a government employee, Icahn will bypass the usual ethical disclosures, divestitures and other safeguards."
The announcement that Trump will be tapping the private sector for help with matters such as hacking and information security comes amid an increasingly bitter stand-off between the president-elect and the intelligence community, which he has accused of leaking false information akin to "Nazi Germany."