Starting the post-Christmas phase of his transition, President-elect Donald Trump made appointments Tuesday devoted to national security — particularly cyber defense — and to international trade and diplomacy.
Former George W. Bush administration official Thomas Bossert will be the White House homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, while Trump Organization official Jason D. Greenblatt will be “Special Representative for International Negotiations,” Trump announced.
Bossert “brings enormous depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to protecting the homeland to our senior White House team,” Trump said in a statement. “He has a handle on the complexity of homeland security, counter-terrorism, and cyber-security challenges.”
Bossert, a deputy homeland security adviser during the Bush administration, said he looks forward to “maintaining a strong, deeply respectful relationship with the governors, mayors, police and fire fighters, emergency managers, EMS professionals, and public health officials that constitute the backbone of our homeland security and our national preparedness.”
Trump said he was elevating Bossert’s position to an independent post alongside the national security adviser, instead of a deputy reporting to the adviser.
Focusing on cyber-security in particular, Bossert said that “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, honoring the rights of personal property, the benefits of free and fair trade, and the fundamental principles of liberty.”
Cyber-security became an issue in Trump’s election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Intelligence agencies accused Russia of hacking into Democratic officials’ e-mails in a bid to help Trump’s campaign.
Trump has questioned whether the Russians intervened in the election, but has called for beefing up U.S. cyber defensive and offensive capability.
Greenblatt, currently executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, has often represented the New York businessman, and has become “one of my closest and most trusted advisers,” Trump said.
Trump said Greenblatt’s “talents lend themselves perfectly to the role I have asked him to play, assisting on international negotiations of all types, and trade deals around the world.”
In addition to trade — Trump says some current agreements are unfair to U.S. workers — Greenblatt could also get involved in Middle East peace negotiations.
“Mr. Greenblatt served as one of the President-elect’s principal advisors on the U.S.-Israel relationship during the campaign,” the Trump transition team said in announcing the appointment.
In thanking Trump for the offer, Greenblatt said that “my philosophy, in both business and in life, is that bringing people together and working to unite, rather than to divide, is the strongest path to success. I truly believe that this approach is one that can yield results for the United States in matters all over the world.”
Trump continues to spend the year-end holidays at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
In the coming days, he is expected to conduct job interviews for positions that remain open, including secretary of Agriculture and director of National Intelligence.
The new appointments come a day after Trump engaged in a long-distance battle with President Obama.
In a podcast interview with former political adviser David Axelrod, Obama said he could have won a third term had the Constitution permitted him to run again.
Trump replied via tweet that there was “NO WAY” Obama would have beat him.
Trump returned to the issue Tuesday afternoon, tweeting: “President Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost. The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”