As the threat of cyberattacks on the U.S. ratchets up and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference reaches full throttle, two of the FBI's top cybersecurity experts will retire along with another top official, the bureau said Thursday.
"As I retire after 28 years of government service to transition into the private sector, I have full confidence that under Director [Christopher] Wray's steadfast leadership, the Bureau will remain the FBI the American people have depended on for 110 years," Executive Assistant Director David Resch, who heads up the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, said in a statement.
The bureau has been the subject of harsh words from President Trump and some of his supporters in Congress, who have alleged bias against the president and called Mueller's probe a witch hunt.
But the departures, which include the retirements of Scott Smith, who heads the cyber division under Resch, and Executive Assistant Director Carl Ghattas, who leads the National Security Branch, were cast as typical for career FBI officials who've reached tenure with the bureau.
However, the trio is leaving as the threat of cyberattacks from nation-states like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran looms large.
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats recently warned of Russia's "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy," noting that the "lights are blinking red again" as they did prior to 9/11.
And Thursday night, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein clarified the threat from Russia, noting that the country's "intelligence officers did not stumble onto the ideas of hacking American computers and posting misleading messages because they had a free afternoon. It is what they do every day."