WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday sacked the country’s top election security official, a well-respected member of his administration who had dared to refute the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud and vouch for the integrity of the vote .
Although abrupt, the dismissal of Christopher Krebs, director of the Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security, came as no surprise. Since his loss, Trump has rid his administration of officials deemed insufficiently loyal and denounces the conduct of an election that led to an embarrassing defeat against Democrat Joe Biden.
This made Krebs a prime target. He had used the imprimatur of Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, where his agency was based, to post a stream of statements and tweets over the past week attesting to the smooth running of the election and exposing the lies spread by the government. president and his supporters. – without mentioning Trump by name.
Krebs maintained these claims after his ouster.
“Honored to serve. We did it right, ”he said in a brief statement on Twitter. “Defend today, secure tomorrow.”
He concluded with the phrase “Protect 2020”, which had been the slogan of his agency before the elections.
The dismissal of Krebs, a person appointed by Trump, came the week after the dismissal of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, as part of a larger reshuffle that placed Trump loyalists in high-level positions in the Pentagon .
A former Microsoft executive, Krebs led the agency, known as CISA, from its inception following Russian interference in the 2016 election until the November election. He was praised by both parties, as the ICAR coordinated the efforts of federal and local states to defend electoral systems against foreign or domestic interference.
Hours before being sacked, Krebs tweeted a report citing 59 election security experts, saying there was no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election result.
Trump responded on Twitter later today. He repeated claims not based on the vote and wrote: “As of now, Chris Krebs has been fired as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Officials from CISA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, did not immediately comment.
Members of Congress – mostly Democrats – denounced the dismissal.
Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attacked Trump for “retaliation against Director Krebs and other officials who did their duty.” It is pathetic, but unfortunately predictable, that maintaining and protecting our democratic processes is a cause for dismissal.
One of the few Republicans to join the criticism was Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent critic of Trump. “Chris Krebs has done a very good job, as state election officials across the country will tell you, and he obviously shouldn’t be fired,” he said.
Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin noted that bipartisan election officials rejected Trump’s allegations of widespread fraud. “Chris Krebs is to be commended for his service in protecting our election, not for telling the truth.”
Krebs kept a low profile even though he expressed confidence ahead of the November vote and, subsequently, dismissed claims that the tally was tainted with fraud. Trump’s repudiation was notable due to a component of DHS, which was criticized for appearing too closely aligned with the president’s political goals.
CISA has issued statements rejecting claims that large numbers of the deceased could vote or that someone could change the results undetected.
He also distributed a statement from a coalition of federal and state officials concluding that there was no evidence that the votes had been compromised or changed in the November 3 election and that the vote was the safest in the world. American history.
Krebs avoided directly criticizing the president and tried to stay above the political fray, even as he worked to contradict disinformation coming from the president and his supporters. “It’s not our job to check the facts with the president,” he said in a briefing with reporters on the eve of the election.
CISA works with state and local officials who run the U.S. elections as well as with private companies that provide voting materials to combat cybersecurity and other threats while monitoring the ballot and tabulation from a room. controls at its headquarters near Washington. It also works with industry and utilities to protect the country’s industrial base and power grid from threats.
The agency enjoys a good reputation with its main constituency – the state and local election officials who rely on its advice and services in an era of near-constant cyberattack – as well as on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers recently proposed an increase in its budget of about $ 2 billion.
His removal is a “worrying sign to the US government,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.
“Chris Krebs has been an accessible and reliable partner for election officials across the country and across party lines as we have stepped up our cyber defenses since 2016,” said Padilla. “Our electoral infrastructure has become stronger thanks to leaders like Chris Krebs and despite actions and lies coming from the White House.”
The agency emerged from a difficult start. Just before President Barack Obama left office, the United States designated electoral systems as essential national security infrastructure, such as roadblocks or power stations, due to Russian interference, which included the penetration of state electoral systems as well as massive disinformation.
Some state and Republican election officials, wary of a federal intrusion on their territory, opposed the designation. The National Association of Secretaries of State passed a resolution opposing the move in February 2017. But the Trump administration backed the designation and, ultimately, skeptical state officials praised the aid.