President Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday evening that he was firing Chris Krebs, who led the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm and who had taken a prominent role in debunking the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that were being spread by Trump and his allies.
Krebs in recent days had expected that he would be terminated, according to a Reuters report last week that described the White House’s unsuccessful effort to get his agency to take down or edit the “Rumor Control” webpage it had launched to address the false claims. Even after that report, his agency released a statement calling the 2020 election the “most secure in American history” while knocking down claims that there had been “deleted or lost votes, changed votes.”
Krebs has led the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency since 2018 and has earned bipartisan praise from election officials for how his agency has helped them protect their election infrastructure.
Krebs most recent tweet before his ouster, sent earlier Tuesday, was more pushback at the claims that election infrastructure had been manipulated.
Trump’s tweets announcing Krebs’ termination doubled down on the false allegations. Trump explicitly said Krebs was being fired due to his “highly inaccurate” statements that did not acknowledge “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.”
In a tweet minutes later, Trump shamelessly took credit for the federal government’s success in fending off foreign attacks on U.S. election systems — a defense Krebs himself helped lead.
Last week, when reports surfaced the expectation that Krebs would be fired, election officials rushed to his defense.
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) said in a Thursday statement to TPM that Krebs had “provided a steady hand’ in the “critically important work CISA” does for election officials.
“It is a dark day for government integrity if Director Krebs has been fired due to his adherence to the truth,” Condos said. “We have enough work on our hands fighting disinformation campaigns by foreign governments attacking the integrity of our elections: we should not have to fight those same battles within our own government.”
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) said in a statement that Krebs had “been an accessible, reliable partner for elections officials across the country, and across party lines, as we have fortified our cyber defenses since 2016.”
“The ongoing purge of respected, competent leaders who refuse to perpetuate Trump’s delusional conspiracy theories about the election is a disturbing sign for American government,” Padilla said. “It’s an assault on reality. It leaves our nation weaker. Sadly this is not new for Trump—the truth has never mattered when it’s inconvenient for him.”
The news also drew praise of Krebs from Republicans in the Senate. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) called Krebs a “dedicated public servant who has done a remarkable job during a challenging time.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) was more blunt: “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.”