Biden Cyber Pick Goldstein Already on Job at Homeland Security

  • Goldstein position doesn’t require Senate confirmation
  • DHS secretary nominee Mayorkas stuck in Senate for now

Eric Goldstein is among the first Biden administration picks currently at work at the Homeland Security Department, at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Goldstein has started as a senior advisor at CISA, an agency spokesman confirmed. Brandon Wales is still the acting director of the cyber agency. Two people familiar with Goldstein’s position said he is the CISA Executive Assistant Director Cybersecurity Division—a role previously held by Bryan Ware who left as former President Donald Trump was clearing out the agency.

CISA took on a new prominence in 2020 for the agency’s handling of disinformation and foreign interference in the 2020 election, which ultimately led to Trump firing his own appointee, Chris Krebs.

Goldstein will have to help the agency shift from its post-election response to addressing the massive foreign intrusion of federal networks linked to SolarWinds, a widely used network management software. He most recently served as vice president and head of cybersecurity policy, standards, and regulations at Goldman Sachs. Earlier, he worked in several cybersecurity roles at DHS under the Obama administration.

Nominees in Waiting

Biden is expected to nominate Rob Silvers to lead CISA, but his name has yet to be announced officially for the role, which will require Senate confirmation.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee to lead the DHS, was approved by a Senate panel Tuesday, but faces uncertain timing for a floor vote.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Sen. Rob Portman arrives at the Senate chamber in the Capitol on Jan. 31, 2020.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is now the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, voted for Mayorkas, despite misgivings, because of the importance of countering cybersecurity threats. The DHS needs confirmed leadership to respond to such risks including from SolarWinds, which Portman said was “the most significant national security threat we’ve had in this country in years.”

Several Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans want their own hearing with Mayorkas before a floor vote, they said in new letter. They raised concerns about the Biden administration’s approach to immigration, over which their committee has oversight.

Traditionally the DHS nominee has only required the Homeland Security panel’s approval.

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) the majority whip and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called on his colleagues to clear Mayorkas for a vote, removing any holds senators may have on his nomination.

“Let Mr. Mayorkas go to the head of this agency where he is desperately needed and show the kind of leadership he has over and over again for this country,” Durbin said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at scourtney@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com

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