In a move immediately denounced as both desperate and dangerous,President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening fired the head of a federal agency after the official repeatedly debunked the president's lies, including by releasing a statement declaring the 2020 presidential election "the most secure in American history."
In an act that evoked comparisons with the actions of a third-rate despot, Trump sacked Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)—which the president created in 2018—for the "offense" of telling the truth about the election.
Christopher Krebs, the federal government's top election security official, has been fired by President Trump.
Krebs had led a campaign to refute baseless, false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election. https://t.co/sKxnJaw7EQ
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) November 18, 2020
Reacting to rampant and blatantly false right-wing claims of "widespread voter fraud" during the election, Krebs' CISA issued a November 12 statement declaring, in part, that:
The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history... When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.
"While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too," CISA concluded. "When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections."
The final straw for Krebs may have been a Tuesday morning tweet pushing back on claims of fraud by Trump and his allies, just hours before the president's campaign lost yet another legal challenge—its 25th so far, compared to one (overturned) win—to the validity of the electoral process.
ICYMI: On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, "in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent." #Protect2020 https://t.co/Oj6NciYruD
— Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 17, 2020
When Trump announced Krebs' termination publicly via Twitter Tuesday evening—which made claims the platform flagged as "disputed"—the president accused Krebs of making "highly inaccurate" statements about the election. Critics of Trump, however, said it is clear that Krebs was fired simply for telling the truth in the face of the president's falsehoods.
Thursday: Chris Krebs, who leads Cybersecurity at Homeland Security, issued a FACTUAL statement w/ state election officials: "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."
Today: Trump fired him
This is chaos. pic.twitter.com/CvzTjILaON
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— Kristen Clarke 866-OUR-VOTE (@KristenClarkeJD) November 18, 2020
As The Hill reported,
Krebs' removal will leave a tremendous void atop the federal agency that has served as a leading driver in the effort to secure U.S. elections and other cybersecurity priorities. He earned bipartisan acclaim during his time serving in the Trump administration and has been a trusted voice among security officials.
Reaction to Kreb's firing came fast and furious—and not just from Democrats.
"Christopher Krebs got fired because he did his job to protect our elections and stood up to Trump's conspiracy theories," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) "This is a disgusting abuse of power by a weak and desperate president who undermines our democracy and national security."
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) also denounced the sacking. "By firing Mr. Krebs for simply doing his job," King said in a statement, "President Trump is inflicting severe damage on all Americans."
Chris Krebs is 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 – who rely on CISA’s defenses, even if they don’t know it. My statement: pic.twitter.com/gCzImQG2jZ
— Senator Angus King (@SenAngusKing) November 18, 2020
Rep. Lloyd Dogett (D-Texas) said the public firing of Krebs—who he called a "truthtelleter—was in the "typical style" of Trump, riddled with "corrosive, undemocratic, dangerous lies."
Here's a sampling of some of the bipartisan condemnation of Trump's malevolent move:
Trump fired a government official for telling the truth so he can accelerate his lying about the election. Chris Krebs didn’t deserve to be fired. https://t.co/2vB3n7tuDa
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 18, 2020
"The Trump administration just fired Chris Krebs," tweeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). "I know this guy. He is in charge of protecting our critical infrastructure—including elections—from cyberattacks. He did his job. He did it without fear or favor. To use all caps like our outgoing President likes to do: OUTRAGE."