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Donald Trump taps Rudy Giuliani to head cybersecurity task force

Donald Trump spoke to reporters at his first

Donald Trump spoke to reporters at his first formal news event as president-elect at Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday announced that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will serve as a cybersecurity adviser for the incoming administration.

Giuliani, speaking to reporters at Trump Tower, said in the newly created role, he will organize meetings between Trump and tech-industry leaders to discuss their approaches to cybersecurity with the aim of creating “a very vibrant and very robust cyberdefense” for the private sector and the government.

“We’ve let our defenses fall behind,” Giuliani said. “Our offense is way ahead of our defense.”

Trump’s transition team, in a statement, said the president-elect’s objective in having Giuliani coordinate the series of meetings is to obtain information about the private sector’s challenges warding off hacking threats, and their successes in fortifying their systems from cyber-intrusions.

Giuliani, who served as a key campaign adviser to Trump, said he would not step down from his current roles operating his own international security consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and as the chairman of the global cybersecurity practice at the law firm, Greenberg Traurig.

“I’m doing this as a private citizen, I’m doing it on my own time,” Giuliani told reporters.

The appointment follows Trump’s announcement last week that he would form a panel to deliver a report on the government’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities within 90 days of taking office.

Trump, who conceded at a news conference Wednesday that Russia played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and the emails of top aides to Democrat Hillary Clinton, promised to examine the issue of cybersecurity after meeting with top U.S. intelligence officials in Manhattan last Friday.

Also Thursday, Trump said National Intelligence Director James Clapper called him “to denounce” a report leaked to media outlets that listed unsubstantiated salacious claims about the real estate mogul.

“James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!” Trump tweeted.

Clapper issued a statement Wednesday evening saying he called the president-elect to express his “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press,” but did not outright denounce the report itself.

The intelligence chief said intelligence agencies had not yet “made any judgment” about the contents of a 35-page dossier that had been “widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and congressional staff” that said Russian operatives had compromising information about Trump and his associates.

“I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC [intelligence community],” Clapper said. “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”

Trump in a Wednesday news conference called the dossier “fake news,” and criticized CNN and BuzzFeed for reporting on it, which was said to have been compiled by a former British intelligence officer hired during the campaign by political opposition groups.

Also at Trump Tower Thursday, Trump met with AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson.

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