Policy

Members of Trump’s Infrastructure Panel Resign in Protest

Administration not responsive to sound advice, letter says

The departing panelists cited President Donald Trump’s recent comments on the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than a quarter of a blue-ribbon panel of experts that advises President Donald Trump on infrastructure security submitted a joint resignation letter to him Monday because, they wrote, his actions jeopardize U.S. security and “undermine” America’s “moral infrastructure.”

Seven members of the 27-person National Infrastructure Advisory Council, mostly Democrats, are stepping down, said Cristin Dorgelo, one of the resigning members, in an email to CQ Roll Call. Dorgelo, a senior counselor at Mission Partners LLC, was formerly chief of staff for President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The council, created in 2001, advises the president through the Homeland Security secretary on critical U.S. infrastructure and information systems. Its members are drawn from the private sector, government and academia.

Four of the council members who resigned confirmed in emails that they had done so and that the text of their letter to Trump, obtained by CQ Roll Call, is accurate.

The council members providing that confirmation were Dorgelo; Christy Goldfuss, a vice president at the Center for American Progress who chaired Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality; DJ Patil, a political independent who was formerly U.S. chief data scientist under Obama; and Daniel Tangherlini, former administrator of the General Services Administration.

In the letter, the resigning council members said they normally work in a bipartisan and collaborative fashion.

“Unfortunately,” they added, “our experience to date has not demonstrated that the Administration is adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters within the NIAC’s purview, or responsive to sound advice received from experts and advisors on these matters.”

In taking on this duty,” they wrote, “we each took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Today, that oath compels us to resign. The moral infrastructure of our Nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built. The Administration’s actions undermine that foundation.”

Critique of Trump

The departures represent the latest example of outside advisers to Trump resigning in protest in the wake of the president’s widely criticized comments on the recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he appeared to assert moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and people protesting them.

Earlier this month, the president disbanded the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategic and Policy Forum after CEOs resigned in droves from them.

In Monday’s letter to Trump, the resigning members of the infrastructure council cited the president’s remarks about the Charlottesville violence and his attacks on the CEOs who left advisory councils in protest.

But they also noted what they called Trump’s “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.”

And they decried his actions on climate change as threats to U.S. security.

“Additionally, your decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, your intent to revoke flood-risk building standards, and your many other actions to ignore the pressing threat of climate change to our critical infrastructure also point to your disregard for the security of American communities,” they wrote.

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