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01:17 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Rob Joyce, President Donald Trump’s former cybersecurity coordinator, has been tapped to serve as the National Security Agency’s top representative in the United Kingdom, according to a former senior intelligence official and a second source familiar with the matter.

As senior US liaison officer in London for the US’s top digital spy agency, which vacuums up communications from around the globe, Joyce “will be responsible for the full breadth of NSA mission in and to the UK government,” the former senior intelligence official told CNN.

It is “the most important overseas post the NSA has,” they added, due to the NSA’s close relationship with the British digital intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ.

Joyce’s appointment, following a stream of high-level White House departures after John Bolton took the reins at the National Security Council, comes at a time when Trump’s negative comments about trade, defense spending, intelligence and other topics in Brussels and Helsinki sent a shockwave through Europe and around the world.

Since Trump became President, former and current intelligence officials have routinely said that working relationships with counterparts overseas remain strong and unimpacted by political chaos.

“The relationship with the US has absolutely underpinned British security,” Nick Fishwick, a former senior national security and diplomatic official in the UK said at a conference hosted by national security website the Cipher Brief in April. “There are ripples depending on who’s in power, but there’s a rock solid relationship … I never saw a departure of that warmth.”

The US and the UK, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing relationship – one of the longest standing and closest partnerships where very sensitive raw intelligence is regularly exchanged. The US and the UK are especially close.

Bolton eliminated Joyce’s position as cybersecurity coordinator entirely after his departure, leading several concerned congressman to introduce a bill to restore the job.

Joyce, known for his technical expertise, served as the head of one of the NSA’s elite hacker units, the Tailored Access Operations group, between 2013 and 2017 where he led some of the agency’s most specialized efforts to penetrate foreign targets overseas. He began work at NSA in 1989 and accepted a job at the National Security Council in October 2017, where he led the government’s cybersecurity strategy from the top – though he chose to return to NSA shortly after his colleague Tom Bossert, then the President’s homeland security adviser, was asked to resign.

“I had the privilege of working closely with Rob Joyce at the White House,” Chris Costa, the executive director of the Spy Museum and a recently retired senior counterterrorism advisor to President Trump. “Rob is the consummate intelligence professional; both the UK and the US will be well served by this choice.”

NSA spokesperson Brynn Freeland told CNN that “as of now” there are no personnel changes to report. Joyce is currently a senior cybersecurity adviser for newly minted NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone. Joyce’s new job is still working its way through the system, according to the sources familiar with his new role.

The special advisory role in the UK could set Joyce up for leadership positions back in Washington in the future. Former Deputy Director of NSA Chris Inglis also served as the senior liaison to the UK before becoming second-in-command at Fort Meade, NSA’s home base in Maryland.