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President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he had fired Chris Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Krebs was instrumental in protecting US elections from domestic and foreign interference and enjoyed broad bipartisan support as the head of CISA. Lawmakers from both parties defended Krebs after Trump axed him.
Krebs spearheaded the DHS' robust effort to combat many of Trump's election-related conspiracy theories.
He also appeared in a preelection video with top US law enforcement and counterintelligence officials to reassure Americans of a free and fair election and emphasize it was safe to vote by mail.
In recent days, Krebs told multiple associates he expected Trump to fire him, Reuters reported.
President Donald Trump has fired Chris Krebs, a senior US official who was head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
"The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, 'glitches' in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more," Trump tweeted. "Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency."
Twitter subsequently flagged Trump's tweets for containing disputed claims about the election. No evidence has emerged to support his claims of "massive improprieties and fraud."
Shortly after he was fired, Krebs tweeted from his personal account: "Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow."
Just a few hours before his termination, Krebs used his government Twitter account to rebut Trump and other Republicans' claims that election infrastructure was tampered with.
"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,'" Krebs tweeted.
Last week, CISA announced there was "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," contradicting Trump's false and unsubstantiated claims about election fraud.
Krebs expected to be fired after publicly rebuking Trump's conspiracy theories
CISA was created in 2018, and as its leader Krebs was instrumental in protecting US elections from outside interference, whether domestic or foreign, and he enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But his firing wasn't entirely unexpected; Reuters reported earlier this month that Krebs had told multiple people he anticipated being fired by the White House.
In the days and weeks before his firing, Krebs spearheaded the DHS' robust effort to combat many of Trump's election-related conspiracy theories.
Krebs managed the DHS' "Rumor Control" website, which defended the federal government's efforts to protect the integrity of the election and struck down misinformation about canvassing and auditing, voter registration, ballot-counting measures, and the overall electoral process.
He also used his government Twitter account, with the handle @CISAKrebs, to frequently post "Rumor Control Updates" and retweet news reports debunking misinformation and conspiracy theories from Trumpworld alleging that the election was "rigged" against the president.
—Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 12, 2020
—Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 9, 2020
—Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 11, 2020
—Chris Krebs #Protect2020 (@CISAKrebs) November 10, 2020
In the weeks before the election, Krebs participated in a video with other top US law enforcement and national security officials to reassure Americans of the integrity of the election and emphasize that it was safe to vote by mail, in defiance of Trump's efforts to thwart the process.
"I'm here to tell you that my confidence in the security of your vote has never been higher," Krebs said in the video. "That's because of an all-of-nation unprecedented election-security effort over the last several years."
"Elections are going to look a little different this year," he said. "While this will change the way Americans vote, Americans will vote. And Americans will decide American elections. And you, as the American voter, are the last line of defense."
Krebs also said voters should "be patient because of the changes due to COVID, on November 3, we might not know the outcome of our election."
"And that's OK, but we're going to need your patience until official results are announced," he added. "So get out there and vote with confidence, and be a part of protecting 2020."
In the end, as Business Insider has reported, the 2020 election was among the safest and most secure because of the use of paper ballots and voting machines with verifiable paper trails.
Paul Nakasone, the director of the National Security Agency, also said there was less foreign election interference this year compared with 2018, and The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US Cyber Command took steps to deter malicious actors, like Russian military hackers, from being able to meddle in the election.
Republicans and Democrats defended Krebs after Trump axed him
Lawmakers, election experts, and cybersecurity experts said Krebs' removal was among the most consequential actions Trump had taken since losing the election.
Ciaran Martin, the former head of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, tweeted: "Not seeking to distract attention from the wider issues, but I just want to put on record a tribute to the outstanding service of @CISAKrebs. He's been the best partner an ally could hope for." Martin added that people in the US, the UK, "and beyond are safer online because of his work and leadership."
David Levine, a former state and local election official who is now an elections-integrity fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, wrote on Twitter that Krebs' ouster "is perhaps the biggest setback" resulting from the election so far.
Election integrity "is about ensuring 1) that eligible individuals can vote; 2) that elections are perceived as legitimate, with accurate, fair and clear results; and 3) that elections are free from malicious activity," including foreign and domestic disinformation and cyberattacks, Levine wrote.
He added that Krebs "practiced and preached these values, even when it wasn't politically expedient to do so, and and our nation owes him a debt of gratitude for all of the work he and his @CISAgov colleagues did to help secure."
"Chris Krebs is an extraordinary public servant and exactly the person Americans want protecting the security of our elections," Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after Krebs' firing. "It speaks volumes that the president chose to fire him simply for telling the truth."
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement, "President Trump is 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."
Suzanne Spaulding, who spearheaded the Department of Homeland Security's cyber division during the Obama administration, tweeted that Krebs "is the only person I can think of who is leaving this administration with his reputation not just intact but, appropriately, burnished."
"Thank you," she continued, "for picking up the baton 4 yrs ago and achieving so much progress for the org and mission!"
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse also commended Krebs, saying in a statement: "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. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, also defended Krebs, telling CNN's Manu Raju: "I know Chris, I've worked well with him. I think he's a real professional."
Asked whether he thought Trump was wrong to fire Krebs, Portman said: "Yeah I think he was very good. I think what he was trying to do in an unprecedented way was to connect with every state in the country, and give them what they needed to protect and have a firewall ... against cyberattacks."
Read the original article on Business Insider