Cybersecurity Director Christopher Krebs is the latest Trump administration official to be fired for refusing to bolster President Trump's lies about the election results.
Cybersecurity Director Christopher Krebs is the latest Trump administration official to be fired for refusing to bolster President Trump's lies about the election results. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Christoper Krebs—whose department oversees election cybersecurity—vocally contradicted Trump’s lies about the election results with facts. Like so many others, he paid the price by losing his job.

President Donald Trump fired the nation’s top election security official, a widely respected member of his administration who had dared to refute the president’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud and vouch for the integrity of the vote.

The dismissal Tuesday of Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, only continues Trump’s reprisals against those who refuse to parrot Trump’s lies about the election results. More broadly, Trump has rid his administration of officials seen as insufficiently loyal in the wake of his loss to President-elect Joe Biden.

That made Krebs a prime target. He had used the imprimatur of Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, where his agency was based, to issue a stream of statements and tweets over the past week attesting to the proper conduct of the election and denouncing the falsehoods spread by the Republican president and his supporters—without mentioning Trump by name.

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Krebs stood by those assertions after his ouster.

“Honored to serve. We did it right,” he said in a brief statement on Twitter. “Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow.”

He closed with the phrase “Protect 2020,” which had been his agency’s slogan ahead of the election.

The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee, came the week after the dismissal of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, part of a broader shakeup that allowed Trump to install loyalists in senior Pentagon positions.

A former Microsoft executive, Krebs ran the agency, known as CISA, from its creation in the wake of Russian interference with the 2016 election through the November election. He won bipartisan praise as CISA coordinated federal state and local efforts to defend electoral systems from foreign or domestic interference.

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Hours before being dismissed, Krebs tweeted out a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.

Trump responded on Twitter later in the day. He repeated unsubstantiated claims about the vote and wrote “effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

Officials with CISA and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, had no immediate comment.

Members of Congress—mostly Democrats—denounced the firing.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, assailed Trump for “retaliating against Director Krebs and other officials who did their duty. It’s pathetic, but sadly predictable that upholding and protecting our democratic processes would be cause for firing.”

One of the few Republicans joining in the criticism was Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic. “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,” he said.

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Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin noted that bipartisan election officials have dismissed Trump’s claims of widespread fraud. “Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth,” he said.

Krebs kept a low profile even as he voiced confidence ahead of the November vote and, afterward, knocked down allegations that the count was tainted by fraud. The repudiation of Trump was notable coming from a component of DHS, which has been criticized for seeming to be too closely aligned with the president’s political goals.

CISA issued statements dismissing claims that large numbers of dead people could vote or that someone could change results without detection.

It also distributed a statement from a coalition of federal and state officials concluding there was no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in the Nov. 3 election and that the vote was the most secure in American history.