Donald Trump last night fired the Director of the US Federal Agency that confirmed the reliability of the 2020 Presidential election & pushed back on the president’s ‘baseless claims’ of voter fraud.
Trump fired Christopher Krebs, who served as the Director of the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cyber-Security & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in a tweet on Tues., saying Krebs “has been terminated”, & that his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate”.
Krebs’s deputy, Matt Travis, resigned in solidarity a few hours later. The 3rd most senior official is now predicted to head the agency on an interim basis.
A new permanent appointee will be within the gift of the incoming Biden administration, & there have already been some calls for Krebs’s re-instatement by President-Elect Biden next year.
The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee, comes as Trump is refusing to recognise the victory of the president-elect, Joe Biden, & removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal. He fired Mark Esper, the Defence Secretary, on Nov. 9 as part of a bigger shake-up that put Trump loyalists in senior Pentagon positions.
Krebs had indicated he expected to be fired. Last week, his agency released a statement refuting claims of widespread voter fraud. “The Nov. 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” it observed. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Krebs, a former Microsoft executive, ran the agency, known as CISA, from its creation after Russian interference with the 2016 election through the Nov. election. He won bi-partisan praise as CISA co-ordinated Federal, State & local efforts to defend electoral systems from both foreign and domestic interference.
Trump referenced the CISA statement in his tweet firing Krebs. The president’s tweets also repeated many of the ‘baseless’ election fraud claims he has made in the last few weeks.
Several top Democrats were fast to condemn the president’s decision.
On CNN, senior Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a candidate for the new Secretary of State position in a Biden administration suggested, “Chris Krebs’ federal service is just the latest casualty in President Trump’s 4-year-long war on the truth.”
Angus King, the Maine senator who is among the candidates who may be appointed Director of National Intelligence in the upcoming Biden administration, called Krebs “a dedicated public servant who has helped build up new cyber capabilities in the face of swiftly-evolving dangers.
“By firing him for doing his job, President Trump is harming all Americans.”
Adam Schiff, the Democratic California Congressman who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, observed that Trump’s move is “ pathetic & predictable from a president who views truth as his enemy”.
Mark Warner, a Democratic Senator of Virginia & Co-Chair of the Senate Cyber-Security Caucus, commented Krebs “is an extraordinary public servant & exactly the person Americans want protecting the security of our elections”.
“It speaks volumes that the president chose to fire him simply for telling the truth,” he said, echoing many of his Democratic colleagues.
Ben Sasse, a Republican Senator of Nebraska also stated. “Chris Krebs did a really good job,” he observed. “He obviously should not be fired.”
Two other DHS officials – Bryan Ware, CISA’s Assistant Director of International Affairs, & Valerie Boyd, DHS Assistant Secretary of International Affairs were also reportedly forced out last week.
Krebs tweeted from his personal account that he was “honored to serve”.
Twitter quickly flagged the tweets in which the President announced Krebs’ firing for containing “disputed” claims about the election.
Trump has ‘doubled down’ on conspiracy theories about election fraud.
His administration has blocked the Biden transition team from receiving briefings, but now that Krebs is no longer working in an official capacity, the incoming administration may be able to gain non-classified briefings from the former cyber-security official.
A few hours later Krebs’s Deputy, Matt Travis resigned in solidarity over the firing of his boss – giving rise to some US media outlets overnight using the expression ‘Tues. Night Massacre’.
This is a reference to the infamous 1973 so-called ‘Sat. Night Massacre’ orchestrated by disgraced former US President, Richard Nixon, as he attempted to quash the Watergate investigations.