POLITICS

Trump Says He's Fired Cybersecurity Official Who Dismissed Voting Conspiracy Claims

Chris Krebs' federal agency wouldn't back up the president's allegations that voting in the 2020 election was compromised.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that he’s fired Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is in charge of keeping voting systems secure.

Trump said Krebs’ firing is a direct result of CISA issuing a statement that it had found no evidence of votes being deleted, lost, changed or compromised at all in the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Democratic challenger Joe Biden

Though Trump regularly announces on Twitter that he’s firing officials who’ve publicly disagreed with him, he is not usually this explicit about the retaliatory nature of their ousters.

Krebs, in releasing a statement about the integrity of the election, threw cold water on Trump’s crusade against the election outcome, which the president baselessly claims is the result of voter fraud and an effort by Democrats to steal the election.

Twitter slapped a misinformation warning on Trump’s tweets about Krebs minutes after they were posted.

Krebs, whose agency falls under the Department of Homeland Security, also launched a “Rumor Control” webpage combating many of Trump’s claims about the results of the election, which he has yet to concede, even though President-elect Joe Biden has won the majority of electoral votes and the popular vote. The page addresses numerous election conspiracy theories being peddled by Trump, Republicans or Trump supporters: that officials are counting votes cast on behalf of dead people, that results shouldn’t take days to process or that election officials are tampering with ballots. 

Krebs, a former Microsoft executive, has been vocal about dispelling election fraud myths on his personal Twitter account, too.

Trump is actually responsible for the launch of CISA almost two years ago to the day when he rebranded it from the National Protection and Programs Directorate and elevated its stature in DHS. Those who pushed for its development argued it would help attract top cybersecurity talent, such as Krebs. 

“Chris Krebs did a really good job — as state election officials all across the nation will tell you — and he obviously should not be fired,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told HuffPost. “I’m particularly grateful for the work he did on the Cyber[space] Solarium Commission to help the nation prepare for the future of war.”

Krebs reportedly told his CISA colleagues recently that he expected the president to fire him. As Trump disputes his loss to Biden, he reportedly has plans to fire several top officials who’ve publicly disagreed with him. Defense Secretary Mark Esper went last week, and FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel are reportedly on the chopping block as well. 

Michael Gwin, a spokesperson for Biden, said in a statement Tuesday that Krebs “should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth.” 

“Bipartisan election officials in the administration itself — and around the country — have made clear that Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud are categorically false and Trump’s embarrassing refusal to accept that reality lays bare how baseless and desperate his flailing is,” Gwin said.

House Homeland Security Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chair Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) released a joint statement after Trump fired Krebs.

“The President’s decision to fire Director Krebs makes America less safe,” they wrote. “We commend Chris Krebs for refusing to cave to political pressure from the White House and instead choosing to uphold his obligations to the American people.”

“In firing Director Krebs for refusing to lend credibility to his baseless claims and conspiracy theories about voter fraud, the President is telling officials throughout the Administration to put his political interests ahead of their responsibilities to the American people,” the lawmakers continued. “That is not only disturbing, it is antidemocratic.”

Sanjana Karanth and Igor Bobic contributed to this report.