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Senior Commerce cybersecurity official resigns after Capitol riot

The Hill logo The Hill 1/7/2021 Maggie Miller
a sign on the side of a building: Senior Commerce cybersecurity official resigns after Capitol riot © Getty Images Senior Commerce cybersecurity official resigns after Capitol riot

John Costello, a senior official for intelligence and security operations at the Department of Commerce, on Thursday announced his resignation in the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

"Today, I resigned my position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Security at the Department of Commerce," Costello wrote in a statement he tweeted.

The now-former senior Commerce Department official pointed squarely to President Trump's actions before the violence at the Capitol building as the cause of his resignation.

Before the mob attacked the building, Trump on Wednesday gave a speech at a rally organized by his supporters in which he said "We will never give up! We will never concede!", referring to his loss against President-elect Joe Biden.

Following the rioters' breach at the Capitol, four people died and members of Congress were evacuated.


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"Yesterday's events were an unprecedented attack on the core of our democracy-incited by a sitting president," he wrote. "The president has long disregarded and diminished the rule of law and the constitution. Yesterday that culminated in violent sedition against the U.S. Congress for the purposes of overturning a legally recognized and valid election."

Costello noted that "during my time in office, I strove to further cybersecurity and national security on behalf of the American people. I am sorry to leave that work unfinished, but yesterday's events leave me no choice."

Costello also serves on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a congressionally-created group made up of members of Congress, federal officials and industry leaders that produced recommendations last year on how to secure the U.S. in cyberspace.

He previously served as the director of Strategy, Policy and Plans at the predecessor agency to the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Costello's resignation came on the heels of a flurry of other senior Trump administration officials choosing to step down following Wednesday's events at the Capitol.

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday resigned from his post as the special envoy to Northern Ireland, and both deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and Ryan Tully, the White House National Security Council's senior director for European and Russian affairs, also stepped down.

Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump and former White House press secretary, submitted her resignation on Wednesday, while National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao have also reportedly considered stepping down over the past day.

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